Heathrow loses “busiest airport” tag

dubaiDubai Airports today released its year-end traffic report which confirm that Dubai International Airport has secured its position as the number one airport for international passenger numbers – usurping capacity-constrained Heathrow.

Full year passenger numbers totalled 70,475,636, up 6.1 per cent from the 66,431,533 recorded in 2013. Heathrow posted 68.1m international passengers, after domestic passengers are extracted from it’s 73.4m total for 2014.

Dubai numbers grew 7.5 per cent in December with 6,498,573 passengers passing through while Heathrow managed only 5.8m.

“This historic milestone is the culmination of over five decades of double-digit average growth”, said HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports. “The shared goal is to make Dubai a global centre of aviation and we are nearing that goal thanks to an open skies policy, a friendly business environment, Dubai’s growing attractiveness as a centre for trade, commerce and tourism, growing network connectivity due to the rapid expansion of Emirates and flydubai and timely investment in aviation infrastructure.”

This increase in numbers at Dubai was despite an 80 day runway refurbishment project reducing flight numbers for part of the year, promising a further significant advance in numbers in 2015.

“Much like 2014, 2015 promises to be another eventful year featuring more record passenger numbers and facility upgrades including the opening of Concourse D which will boost Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. “Today we are also releasing our projections for 2015 traffic at Dubai International which forecast 79 million passengers. We will have more flights connecting more people to more destinations. And we will be fully focussed on rolling out technology, new F&B concepts and service initiatives that further enhance the passenger experience.”

Heathrow Airport, until now the World’s busiest, cannot compete with this growth as it already operates at 98% capacity. The threat to the UK’s position in the global economy – in particular as a global financial centre – is clear.

A Heathrow spokesperson commented: “Britain has benefited from being home to the world’s largest port or airport for the last 350 years. But lack of capacity at Heathrow means we have inevitably lost our crown to Dubai. This highlights the pressing need to get on and expand our own hub, Heathrow, so that we can connect the whole of the UK to global growth.”

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