Dubai to Become World’s Busiest Airport By 2020, Overtaking Beijing and Atlanta

Dubai International expects to be the world’s busiest airport by 2020, operator Dubai Airports said on Monday, the same day it announced a record 7.7 million passengers had used the airport in August.

The airport, already the world’s busiest for international passengers, expects 83 million passengers this year, up from 78 million in 2015, and 90 million in 2017, Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths told Bloomberg TV in an interview.

“The growth rates that we are experiencing are more than double what is being experienced by both Beijing and Atlanta,” Griffiths told Bloomberg. “Within perhaps this decade, we should see ourselves exceeding the total traffic through those airports for the number 1 absolute spots.”

Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson, the hub for US carrier Delta, handled 101.5 million passengers in 2015 and Beijing handled 89.9 million. Dubai International’s monthly passenger traffic grew 6.1 per cent in August to 7,727,105 compared with 7,282,256 in August 2015, Dubai Airports said in a separate statement. That beat the July 2016 record of 7.6 million.

The record was set after the airport operated with reduced capacity for more than 72 hours after an Emirates Boeing 777-300 crash landed there on August 3. Griffiths told Bloomberg that the crash did not impact annual passenger numbers. A “seasonal rush of travellers,” including those returning to the UAE for the start of the school year, boosted August passenger numbers, Dubai Airports said in the statement.

In the first eight months of the year, passenger traffic increased 6.9 per cent to 55,850,353 as of August 31 compared with 52,264,223 in the same period a year ago. The airport handled 78 million passengers in 2015. “Looking back it’s astonishing to see how quickly a tiny airport that was once a refuelling stop for airlines has turned into the world’s number one international hub,” Griffiths said in the statement. “Over these five and a half decades, [Dubai International] has welcomed more than three quarters of a billion passengers.”

In August, India, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia were the most popular country destinations, while London, Doha and Kuwait were the most popular city destinations. Eastern Europe continues to be one of the airport’s fastest growing markets with passenger traffic increasing 67.9 per cent in August. Asia grew by 13 per cent and the Indian Subcontinent and South America each expanded 11.7 per cent. Azerbaijan’s Baku record the strongest percentage growth among city destinations, up 284.5 per cent. Iran’s Mashhad expanded 118.6 per cent and the US’ Boston grew by 88.2 per cent.

The number of aircraft landings and take-offs contracted in August by 2.7 per cent to 33,827.

Aircraft landings and take-offs for the first eight months of the year were up 2.9 per cent to 276,233.

The amount of cargo handled in August declined 3.1 per cent to 201,100 tones whilst year to date grew 2.4 per cent to 1,686,277.

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