Dubai International is still world's busiest airport
The airport targets passenger traffic of 89 million in 2017
Propelled by new airlines and additional destinations, Dubai International retained its title as the world's number one airport for global passengers with annual traffic jumping to 83.65 million in 2016, the airport's operator said on Tuesday.
The airport (DXB), which is targeting a traffic of 89 million in 2017, recorded capacity increases and witnessed the launch of new services by Spice Jet, Jet Airways, Air India and other carriers in 2016 as India continued to lead as Dubai's single largest destination country, Dubai Airports, the operator of Dubai's two airports, said.
An annual traffic report issued by Dubai Airports said with monthly passenger traffic breaching the seven-million mark six times during the year, including a record 7.72 million traffic in August, DXB's annual traffic jumped 7.2 per cent from 78 million in 2015.
The surge of travellers during the holiday season boosted monthly traffic in December to 7.706 million, up 9.3 per cent year on year.
Several new airlines, including Nepal Airlines Corporation and Rossiya, launched services to DXB in 2016, while 11 new passenger destinations were added to the hub as a result of network expansion by flydubai, Emirates and other international carriers, the operator said.
"Spurred by capacity increase and the launch of new services by Spice Jet, Jet Airways, Air India and other carriers, India continued to lead as Dubai's single largest destination country for the full year with 11.44 million passengers in 2016, up 10.1 per cent compared to 10.39 million in 2015," it said.
Saudi Arabia took the second spot with 6.086 million passengers, up 11.3 per cent, marginally overtaking the UK at 6.061 million (up 6.7 per cent). In terms of destination cities connected to DXB, London took the top spot from Doha with 3,751,596 passengers, while Doha clocked 2,999,762 passengers, followed closely by Mumbai with 2,357,103 passengers.
DXB also leads the way globally in terms of the average number of passengers per flight, which reached 209 during 2016, up four per cent from 2015. The average number of passengers per flight during December 2016 was 224, up 7.1 per cent compared to 209 recorded in December 2015.
"After emerging as the world's number one airport for international passengers in 2014, DXB has firmly established itself as the leader in that category," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
With its new forecast for 89 million passengers in 2017, DXB is closing the gap on Atlanta and Beijing for the top spot in overall traffic, he said.
"We continue to enable that growth and enhance the passenger experience with top flight infrastructure, streamlined processes and technology. Our focus in 2017 and beyond will be on making the airport experience even more delightful, engaging and comfortable for our customers. Our DXB Plus programme will see a series of new and unique initiatives and technologies introduced at the airport to make DXB not only the busiest but also the world's best international airport," said Griffiths.
Melwin D'Silva, Air India's regional manager for Gulf, Middle East and Africa, announcing the launch of Boeing B787 service between Dubai and Kochi from February 1, said on Tuesday that the Indian carrier had the privilege to be the second airline to operate the Dreamliner into Dubai in 2014.
Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London's StrategicAero Research, said DXB's continued growth underlined the inherent importance of the hub, not just for the UAE and GCC but also for the world.
"The importance of the airport for the region cannot be emphasised enough. With the second phase of development to get underway for Al Maktoum International Airport later this year, Dubai is wasting no time in ploughing in investment to ensure that capacity keeps growing with passenger numbers. It is likely that Dubai International will target around 90 million passengers this year - and it's highly likely that the goal of reaching 100 million passengers will happen in advance of 2020 at current growth rates," said Ahmad.
Richard Stolz, head of corporate development at grmc Advisory Services, said looking further ahead, it will be interesting to see how Dubai Airports - the operator of DXB and Al Maktoum International in Dubai World Central - will handle passenger growth between the two airports. Eventually,
DWC's anticipated passenger capacity will exceed 160 million passengers per year.
In terms of percentage growth in 2016, the top regions were Eastern Europe (17.5 per cent) - spurred by ongoing growth on routes to the region and network expansion by Emirates, flydubai and other airlines, Asia (11.4 per cent) and the Indian subcontinent (9.5 per cent).
Aircraft movements in 2016 reached 418,220 compared to 406,705 in 2015, up 2.8 per cent. Monthly aircraft movements in December 2016 totalled 36,065, up 1.6 per cent compared to 35,491 movements during the same month in 2015, an increase of 5.9 per cent.
Cargo volumes recovered in the last three months of 2016, rounding off the year with 2,592,454 tonnes in freight, up 3.4 per cent compared to 2,506,092 recorded during 2015. DXB handled 230,122 tonnes of cargo in December 2016, an increase of 5.4 per cent compared to 218,408 tonnes recorded during the same month in 2015.
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