The passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport  surged 14.6 per cent in January to hit a record 5.56 million compared to 4.85 million during the same period last year mainly boosted by holidays and visitors to Dubai Shopping Festival  (DSF).Dubai International has begun 2013 in top gear, setting yet another monthly record by welcoming, for the first time, more than 5.5 million passengers in a single month. According to the traffic report issued by Dubai Airports today, passenger traffic rose 14.6 per cent to 5,559,760 in January 2013, up from 4,852,139 in the same month in 2012.The aircraft movements totalled 31,332 in January 2013, climbing 5.6 per cent from the 29,680 movements recorded in January 2012, said the Dubai Airports report. Most markets were boosted in January by holiday traffic as well as visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), it added. Regionally, South America  remained the fastest-expanding market in terms of percentage growth (over 23.7 per cent), followed by the GCC (over 21.8 per cent), Australasia (over 21.3 per cent) and North America (over 20.8 per cent).The Middle East was the only region to record fewer visitors (down 6.5 per cent) with traffic impacted by continuing political instability in Iran  and Syria , the Dubai Airports report stated. In the GCC, January’s traffic numbers was largely driven by a 46.2 per cent year on year surge in passenger numbers from Saudi Arabia.At 386,698 visitors, the Gulf state was the fastest-growing country in percentage terms in January 2013 among Dubai International’s top 20 country destinations.It was also second behind India in actual passenger numbers. Passengers from India totalled 751,688 in January 2013, up 14.8 per cent from the same month last year, said the report. Air links continue to be expanded between Dubai and Saudi Arabia with Emirates, flydubai, Nasair and Saudi Arabian Airlines all adding new flights in 2012.During the year, Emirates added new flights to Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh while flydubai expanded its network to include Jeddah, Dammam, Riyadh, Taif, Yanbu and Tabuk.Saudi Arabian Airlines, meanwhile, added flights from Madinah and Riyadh to Dubai and low-cost airline Nasair introduced links between Riyadh and Dubai. According to Dubai Airports, the freight volumes too rebounded in January 2013, surging 8.6 per cent to 188,520 tonnes, up from 173,531 tonnes recorded in January last year.The latest data signals a return to robust growth in cargo volumes at Dubai International, the increase supported by improved consumer confidence in the US and Europe, said a top official. “January’s record passenger numbers confirm that the growth trajectory recorded last year has continued into 2013 and Dubai Airports has taken another steady stride towards the 98 million passengers a year we expect to pass through our airport by the end of the decade,” remarked CEO Paul Griffiths. "The near perfect timing of Concourse A’s opening has allowed us to increase our capacity to 75 million passengers a year and make sure we can continue to accommodate the rising number of people who chose to fly through Dubai International," Griffiths stated."It is also a strong endorsement for our $7.8 billion SP2020 expansion plan which will allow us to remain one step ahead of our expected growth by increasing our capacity both on the ground as well as in the air," he added.