Dubai International to be the world's busiest airport in 2014

Published July 23rd, 2014 - 10:28 GMT

Dubai International Airport is expected to maintain its position as the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers at the end of 2014 and afterwards for at least a decade as its year-on-year growth is far above its closest competitors.

During the first five months of the year, Dubai International maintained the top position and after the completion of the 80-day runway repair, the number of flights at the airport surged by 31 percent compared to the flights during runway closure period.

Dubai handled 29.6 million passengers during the first five months of the year while London Heathrow reported 28.47 million passengers for the same period, according to the data released by both the airports’ operators. By the end of May 2014, passenger numbers rose by 9.2 percent at Dubai International while Heathrow recorded only a 2.2 percent growth during the same period.

Dubai Airports successfully resumed full operations at Dubai International from July 21 following the reopening of the northern runway. At the same time, flights that had temporarily moved to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, or DWC, while the runway upgrades were underway, have now returned to Dubai International.

Resuming full operations at Dubai International will pave the way for a robust second half of the year now that all runway work is complete, according to a senior aviation official.

“This also means that as the airport and traffic grows, they won’t need to revamp the runways to cater for that extra growth and this will be vital in toppling Heathrow as the worlds number one airport next year and staying there for good,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times. “Combined, all these strategic efforts will ensure that Dubai International will record some big passenger numbers from August through to December 31 this year. While it might not be enough to knock Heathrow off the top spot by the end of 2014, you can be rest assured that the airport is on track and on target to dominate from 2015 onwards and there’s no way that the likes of London Heathrow will ever take that lead off Dubai for the next 15-20 years.”

Dubai International now boasts two newly-refurbished runways, which allow the airport to accommodate more aircraft while improving operational flexibility during busy peak traffic periods. The runway upgrades were part of Dubai Airports’ $7.8 billion SP2020 masterplan aimed at expanding Dubai International’s capacity to help accommodate more than 103 million passengers by 2020. Airlines that have moved flights from DWC back to Dubai International include flydubai, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei and PAL Express, as well as selected flights from Qatar Airways and Gulf Air. Four airlines will continue to offer flights from DWC, including Wizz Air, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Jazeera Airways.

“Our planning and preparations over the past year not only ensured that the impact on passengers during the 80-day period was minimal but that we were able to resume full operations and accommodate increased traffic at the end of the programme without a hitch,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports.

“The runway upgrade programme tested the mettle of the over 60,000 people who work at DXB whose dedication and teamwork resulted in the successful delivery of an incredibly demanding programme, led by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and Dubai Airports’ operations, while maintaining high traffic volumes and top-flight service levels,” added Griffiths. “Additionally it allowed tens of thousands of passengers to experience the speed, convenience and efficiency of DWC, Dubai’s second airport.”

By Abdul Basit

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