Dubai International Airport has surpassed London’s Heathrow in terms of annual international passenger traffic, which has now turned out to be the world’s busiest international travel hub.
During 2014, Dubai International Airport served 70.47 million passengers, compared with Heathrow’s 68.1 million.
The top market for growth in passenger volumes last year was Western Europe (1,192,831 passengers) closely followed by the Indian Subcontinent (936,449 passengers), Asia (716,180 passengers) and North America (432,597 passengers).
In terms of percentage growth, Eastern Europe (21.0%) was the strongest market followed by North America (18.6%), Asia (12.6%), Australasia (9.2%) and Western Europe (8.8%).
Dubai Airports chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: "This historic milestone is the culmination of over five decades of double-digit average growth that were inspired by the vision of the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
"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."
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Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said Dubai International would boost its annual capacity to 90 million passengers this year with the opening of Concourse D, a new hall for arrivals and departures.
Aircraft movements at Dubai International Airport dropped by 3.4% to 357,339 earlier this year, which was mainly hit by temporary drop in flights during runway refurbishment project, and transfer of freighter operators and general aviation to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC).
Heathrow spokeswoman said in a statement: "The UK 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."
The transfer of freighter operators to DWC also hit the airport’s freight volumes, which dropped by 3.1% during the year to 2.36 million tonnes.
During December, Dubai airport registered 4% growth in aircraft movements to 34,136, while its freight volumes dropped by 7% to 202,836t compared corresponding period last year.
Image: Dubai Airports chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Photo: courtesy of Dubai Airports.