A trio of global air­ports point to so­lu­tions for the pro­jected crush of world gone travel-happy

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The num­bers are in, and it looks like Dubai In­ter­na­tional has edged out Lon­don Heathrow as the world’s busiest air­port for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger traf­fic. In the 12-month pe­riod from Septem­ber 2013 to Septem­ber 2014, a to­tal of 68.9 mil­lion pas­sen­gers passed through Dubai In­ter­na­tional ver­sus 67.8 mil­lion at Heathrow, ac­cord­ing to num­bers from Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional.

As with all statis­tics some caveats and dis­claimers are in or­der. Taken to­gether, Lon­don area air­ports (Gatwick, Stansted, et al.) served well over 100 mil­lion pas­sen­gers dur­ing the same time pe­riod, mak­ing it still by far the world’s busiest city for in­ter­na­tional air travel. And de­spite se­ri­ous ca­pac­ity re­stric­tions, LHR still man­aged to put up nearly a half-mil­lion air­craft move­ments (take­offs and land­ings), as com­pared with 350,000 rel­a­tively un­fet­tered op­er­a­tions at 24-hour DXB.

Nev­er­the­less, Dubai’s ac­com­plish­ment is to be ap­plauded, not least be­cause it was only in 2008 that DXB broke into the Top 20 busiest air­ports in the world. The me­te­oric rise in traf­fic means that the num­ber of pas­sen­gers has al­most dou­bled in the past seven years. It will also un­doubt­edly add more fire to the al­ready heated de­bate in the UK over the fate of Lon­don’s pre­mier aero­drome.

The air­port’s feat also points to the suc­cess of the emi­rate’s poli­cies cal­cu­lated to make it the home of su­perla­tives – the tallest build­ing, the big­gest shop­ping mall and now, the busiest in­ter­na­tional air­port in the world.

Dubai In­ter­na­tional

A quick look at Dubai In­ter­na­tional’s growth curve shad­ows the devel­op­ment of the emi­rate it­self. Dubai Air­port opened in 1960; By 1969 there were 9 air­li­ness to 20 des­ti­na­tions, by 2004 there were 107 air­lines to more e than 160 des­ti­na­tions. To­day there are 140 air­lines op­er­at­ing to 250 des­ti­na­tions.tions.

Con­course C makes up p most of the Ter­mi­nal 1 com­plex – al­soo known as the Sheikh Rashid Ter­mi­nal – and han­dles most com­mer­cial flights to Dubai. Ter­mi­nal 2 is home to Dubai’s bud­get air­line fly­dubai.

Ter­mi­nal 3, which is ded­i­cated to Emi­rates, was opened in 2008 along with an as­so­ci­ated air­side fa­cil­ity known as Con­course B. This ad­di­tion nearly tripled Dubai In­ter­na­tional’s to­tal ca­pac­ity to 60 mil­lion pas­sen­gers. The Ter­mi­nal 3

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