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08 June 2023

Dubai airports to become world’s largest next year

By Waheed Abbas

Dubai International will become world’s busiest airport for good next year, according to an aviation think-tank.

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa) said short-term effects will see Dubai Airport slip behind London’s Heathrow Airport for the full year in 2014, but the upgrades will ensure that the emirate has the infrastructure and capacity required not only to become the largest international airport by 2015, but also maintain that position.

Led by strong growth of local carriers Emirates and flydubai, Dubai airport became world’s busiest in Q1 2014 by overtaking London’s Heathrow Airport. But the passenger traffic will drop because airlines curtailed their flights due to Dubai Airport’s closure of two runways for the 80-day maintenance, which commenced on May 1, 2014.

The number of passengers passing through Heathrow Airport reached 72.3 million last year while Dubai International handled 66.43 million passengers.

Dubai Airport handled 18.36 million international passengers over the first three months of 2014, while Heathrow Airport handled a total of 16 million passengers. Dubai had growth of 11.4 per cent, while London Heathrow traffic grew just 0.5 per cent for the period.

However, the Dubai Airport will regain its status of world’s busiest for the whole year next year – for good – when airport will have full operations and flights return.

A number of airlines have moved their operations temporarily to other airports due to the runways maintenance and will resume operations from Dubai Airport upon the completion of the refurbishment and upgrading.

It said runway works at the emirate’s airport have cut capacity by better than 20 per cent. “With Dubai Airports investing more than $7.5 billion (Dh27.5 billion) in enhancements to existing terminals and the construction of new ones, as well as continued growth by the home carrier and the addition of new airlines, Dubai Airport’s growth will quickly leave behind the traditional international hubs,” Capa said in its latest update on the Dubai Airport.

Dubai is, however, still on track to handle more than 70 million passengers in 2014.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, said last month that Dubai International is expected to surpass 70 million passengers in 2014, 5.4 per cent more than last year, despite 80-day closure of the runways.

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, had forecast that the Dubai Airports to surpass its target of 100 million passengers by 2020, thanks to sustained growth in passenger traffic.

Over the past decade, traffic at Dubai has more than tripled, while growth at London Heathrow has effectively stagnated, Capa added.