Continuing its double-digit traffic growth for the third consecutive month, Dubai International Airport (DIA)  handled 4,848,320 passengers in March 2012, a 15.4 per cent increase over the 4,201,708 passengers in the same month last year, Dubai Airports said yesterday in a statement.
It added that the surge was driven by traffic growth in the region following the increased liberalisation of the Saudi Arabian aviation sector. "March is the third consecutive month for Dubai International with passenger numbers exceeding the 4.5 million mark, propelling traffic in the first quarter to 14,261,606, a surge of 16.1 per cent over the same period last year," the airport authority said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)  continued to top the list of regions with the largest increase in passenger numbers (a rise of 174,537 passengers), followed by Western Europe (a rise of 109,364), and Africa (a rise of 90,057), according to Dubai Airports estimates.
"As growth continues to pick up in almost all markets, both traditional and new, the outlook for the second quarter is similarly positive," Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports , said in a statement. According to aviation analyst Saj Ahmad of Strategic Aero Research, the numbers were achieved despite economic and fiscal pressures in other economies.
"It hasn't quelled or stifled demand in the GCC and that's prevalent here in Dubai most because of its wide global network being serviced by the airlines that use the airport," he said. The airport handled 186,417 tonnes of cargo in last month compared to 185,921 tonnes in March 2011, up 0.3 per cent.
"While freight remains pretty flat, that passenger demand is strong, the airport will boost revenues through greater duty free and airplane movements - all of these moves show that the decision to expand the airport is a good move, particularly as question marks about Al Maktoum International Airport  development are still causing a stir," said Ahmad.