Dubai International Airport, which handled more than 18 million passengers in the first quarter, has become the busiest airport in the world for international passengers, overtaking London's Heathrow.
Dubai International Airport, the Emirates airline hub, handled 18.36 million international passengers in Q1, while Heathrow saw a total 16.1 million passenger traffic in the same period.
The traffic increase at DIA was driven by the expanding networks of Emirates airline and flydubai, Dubai Airports said.
Dubai Airports received 18.36 million passengers in the first quarter of this year, compared to 16.1 million passengers that passed through London’s Heathrow Airport in the same quarter.
The Dubai figure was up 11.4% from the 16,486,417 passengers welcomed in the first quarter of 2013, Dubai Airports said.
More than 6 million passengers passed through Dubai International in March 2014, according to the latest traffic statistics issued by Dubai Airports.
This is the third time in four months the airport has recorded monthly traffic of more than 6 million passengers.
Passenger traffic reached 6,285,868 in March 2014, up 7.5% from the 5,846,297 achieved in the same month last year.
March also saw Dubai Airport report higher international passenger numbers than Heathrow over a two month period for the first time.
Regionally, the Indian subcontinent again recorded the highest growth in passenger numbers in March (+112,953 passengers), followed by Western Europe (+75,283), the GCC (+60,280) and Asia (+58,851). Australasia was the fastest-expanding market in terms of percentage growth (+21.9%) as a result of Emirates’ partnership with Qantas, followed by North America (+19.1%) and Asia (+13.9%).
India remained the top destination country (751,390 passengers) during the month, followed by Saudi Arabia (518,555) and the UK (460,529). London emerged as Dubai International’s busiest city destination, ahead of Doha, Jeddah and Riyadh.
“The growth in passenger and freight traffic supports our continued investment in expanding and improving our facilities at Dubai International. We not only want to increase our capacity to accommodate more passengers but continually refine the service we offer our customers,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
“A key element of this program is the upgrading and refurbishment of both Dubai International’s runways over 80 days beginning May 1. We have focused our efforts over the past few months to ensure smooth operations during this period and minimizing any inconvenience to our passengers while in the long run boosting safety, service and capacity levels at the airport,” he said.
Griffiths expects Dubai Airports to surpass its target of 100 million passengers by 2020, thanks to sustained growth in 2013 and early 2014.
Last year Heathrow took the top spot for international traffic with 72.3 million passengers, followed by Hong Kong and Paris.