rise of a global pas­sen­ger hub

The Gulf re­gion’s air­ports are the new nexus for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers

Business Traveler (USA) - - WORLD WISE - By Ross Atkin­son

Dubai In­ter­na­tional air­port started the year with a record 6.4 mil­lion pas­sen­gers pass­ing through its doors in Jan­uary. That is a 15.1 per­cent in­crease from the same pe­riod a year ago. Some would say the bump in traf­fic was due to the sea­sonal rush of hol­i­day mak­ers into Dubai, as well as the re­cently con­cluded Dubai Shop­ping Fes­ti­val, which at­tracts trav­el­ers from all around the world. A rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion – how­ever, that same air­port also saw a 13.4 per­cent in­crease in in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger traf­fic in De­cem­ber 2013.

These new pas­sen­ger fig­ures make Dubai In­ter­na­tional the largest air­port in the world for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger traf­fic. Wel­com­ing the record per­for­mance, Paul Grif­fiths, CEO of Dubai Air­ports com­ments: “Our new Con­course A is a case in point. With 10,608 A380 sched­uled flights to 26 des­ti­na­tions in 2013, Con­course A has helped Dubai In­ter­na­tional en­hance its sta­tus as the world’s largest hub for Air­bus A380 op­er­a­tions in its first full year of op­er­a­tions.”

There are words of cau­tion and the caveat that not all met­rics are cre­ated equal. As an ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional’s (ACI’s) 2013 an­nual pas­sen­ger traf­fic data, At­lanta’s Hartsfield still takes the crown with al­most 95 mil­lion pas­sen­gers pass­ing through its doors. ACI’s busiest air­ports list also in­cludes Bei­jing, Heathrow, Tokyo, O’Hare and LAX, all of whom have larger over­all 2013 pas­sen­ger counts than Dubai.

How­ever, not only does Dubai it­self put up the big num­bers for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers, it has climbed three po­si­tions to num­ber 7 in the over­all pas­sen­ger traf­fic count. Pretty im­pres­sive for an air­port and re­gion that has been or­ga­nized around chang­ing global air­line pas­sen­ger traf­fic for less than ten years.

And it’s more than just this one air­port. Doha’s in­ter­na­tional air­port also claims the 17th spot in ACI’s in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger rank­ing; it too saw a 13.7 per­cent in­crease in the most re­cent sin­gle month. DOH also has in­creased ca­pac­ity com­ing on­line this year so it is ex­pected they will con­tinue to grow. Abu Dhabi shows the same tra­jec­tory with a 14.9 per­cent in­crease for the same pe­riod.

The Arab Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (AGCC) as a whole recorded the high­est growth in pas­sen­ger traf­fic of any re­gion around the world. In Jan­uary alone, there was an in­crease of over 180,000 pas­sen­gers. Con­tin­ued in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments point to con­tin­ued growth in op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­nect­ing the global trav­eler through the re­gion.

The Mid­dle East now boasts some of the long­est flights in the world fly­ing di­rectly to the western part of the United States. The rise of the global pas­sen­ger is quickly shift­ing and may soon be crowned by the Gulf Re­gion. BT

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