rise of a global passenger hub
The Gulf region’s airports are the new nexus for international passengers
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