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DUBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is on track to become the fastest growing airport in the world after racking up a record 40.9mn travellers last year and bucking the trend of declining air travel in much of the rest of the world.
Traffic grew by 9.2 per cent as Emirates Airline added new routes and frequencies, Dubai launched its new low-cost carrier flydubai, and the 130 airlines serving the airport followed global trends and lowered ticket prices to aggressively compete for customers amid the economic downturn.
By contrast, the global aviation industry is suffering from a decline in air travel due to the economic downturn. Worldwide traffic fell by 4.2 per cent for the first 11 months of the year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said. “If we can set records in a tough economic environment, the sky is the limit for what we can achieve when conditions improve,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum (ck), the chairman of Dubai Airports and chief executive of Emirates Airline.
This year, Dubai Airports expects the growth to continue and is projecting 13.6 per cent growth, to 46mn passengers.
Official airport rankings will be announced later in the year, when Airports Council International (ACI) produces its annual report.
In 2008, Dubai was the 20th-largest airport and the sixth biggest in international traffic, ranked above Singapore and below Hong Kong.
Abu Dhabi International Airport took top honours as fastest growing airport overall, rising by 30.2 per cent, as it embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to bring in new carriers and Etihad Airways opened new routes and frequencies. The two airports have benefited as Middle East airlines wage battle against the likes of Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa for the lucrative Europe to Asia route, attracting passengers with new aircraft and services and shorter transit times via the Gulf.