Abu Dhabi Now World’s Fastest-growing Airport

DUBAI — The UAE’s three international airports stole the global aviation limelight by bucking a severe downturn in the industry with strong passenger traffic growth in 2008, according to data released on Monday by Airports Council International, a trade association of the world’s airports.

By Issac John

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Published: Tue 28 Jul 2009, 11:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:31 PM

The council’s 2008 World Airport Traffic Report showed that Abu Dhabi International Airport was the world’s fastest-growing airport last year, handling 30.2 per cent more passengers than in 2007. Dubai International Airport improved its global ranking for total passenger traffic from to 20th from 27th, with annual growth of nine per cent.

For international traffic, excluding domestic passengers, Dubai’s airport became the world’s sixth-busiest in 2008, following airports in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Dubai saw a 9.3 per cent surge in international traffic last year to 36.6 million passengers, according to the council’s report.

Sharjah International Airport followed close behind Abu Dhabi, with annual traffic growth of 22.1 per cent in 2008, and it ranked third among the world’s 25 fastest-growing airports. Istanbul placed second, and Bahrain International Airport ranked fifth. Bahrain’s airport was the only other Gulf airport among the global top 25.

UAE airports stood out against a backdrop of stagnation at airports worldwide in a turbulent 2008. According to the airports council, traffic grew worldwide by a marginal of 0.1 per cent compared to 2007.

Passenger traffic in 2008 increased to 37.44 million at Dubai airport, to just over 9 million at Abu Dhabi airport, and to 5.2 million at Sharjah airport, the report showed. Globally, Abu Dhabi airport is currently ranked 145th by traffic volume, while Sharjah airport is ranked 223rd in passenger numbers.

All three UAE airports have continued to grow this year, in spite of a persistent slowdown in global aviation.

Figures for Abu Dhabi airport released by Abu Dhabi Airports Company for the first half of 2009 show an 8.1 per cent year-on-year increase in traffic to 4.6 million passengers, compared to the same period last year.

Dubai airport handled 19.45 million passengers in the first half of 2009, representing a 5 per cent increase from last year, while Sharjah airport handled 1.4 million passengers in the first quarter 2009, up 10 per cent from a year ago.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a consultancy based in Sydney, said in a recent report that Dubai Airport overtook Hong Kong in June in terms of passenger numbers. Dubai handled 3.36 million passengers in June 2009, about 55,000 more than Hong Kong.

The Middle East registered the fastest growth of any region, at 5.8 per cent. Traffic in the UAE alone jumped by 13 per cent, the council’s report said.

International airports in Atlanta, Chicago and London retained their top three positions in rterms of total passenger traffic, it said.

· issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

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