Dubai: Dubai International Airport recorded an 8.9 per cent increase in passenger traffic in the first half of this year marking its busiest six months in 50 years,

A total of 24.6 million passengers passed through the airport from January to June compared to 22.6 million in the same period last year, the airport's operator, Dubai Airports, said yesterday in a statement.

In June alone, Dubai International Airport handled a total of 4.07 million passengers, up 10.4 per cent from the 3.68 million in June 2010. The year to date daily average passenger throughput at the airport, meanwhile, reached 135,700 compared to 124,600 recorded during the first six months of 2010.

The strong numbers take the airport closer to achieving its 10-year goal of investing $7.8 billion (Dh28.8 billion) into expanding the existing Dubai International Airport which will see capacity increase from the current 60 million to 90 million passengers per year by 2018.

According to Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, the airport's first-half numbers were boosted by the launch of over 200 new weekly flights to 19 new destinations across Asia, Europe and Africa by various airlines, including Emirates and flydubai.

More frequencies

As analyst Addison Schonland, a Partner at AirInsight, an aviation and aerospace consultancy focused on industry competitive intelligence, pointed out: "Of the 90 million passenger goal, these two airlines could account for 76 per cent of that number. The A380s alone could account for about a third."

Dubai International Airport currently serves 150 airlines flying to over 220 destinations across six continents. "As the numbers clearly suggest, robust passenger traffic growth continues despite high fuel prices and growing economic uncertainty in Europe and the US," Griffiths said in a statement. "This is being driven by the addition of new routes and frequencies, more wide-bodied aircraft as well as by the attractiveness of Dubai as a business and tourist destination and an efficient transit point."

He added that the company's planned $7.8 billion expansion of Dubai International is "well-timed" to accommodate the expected average annual growth of "7.2 per cent" over the next ten years. The 10-year traffic forecast for Dubai's two airports — Dubai International and DWC-Al Maktoum International — projects international passenger and cargo traffic rising to an average annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively.

The average monthly passenger traffic recorded in the first half of 2011, meanwhile, stands at 4.09 million as compared to 3.76 million during the same period last year, Dubai Airports said. It added that the year to date daily average passenger throughput at Dubai International reached 135,700 compared to 124,600 recorded during the first six months of 2010.

The year to date aircraft movements were up 6.2 per cent in first half to reach 159,372, compared to 150,095 in the same period a year earlier. In June, aircraft movements totalled 26,101 up five per cent from 24,847 registered during the corresponding period last year.

But while making room for increasing passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport, momentum is also picking up at DWC where Dubai Airports is preparing to kick off general aviation and corporate jet operations sometime next year. The airport was opened for cargo operations in June last year.

India, UK, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran constituted the top destinations served by Dubai International in the first half, in terms of greatest passenger volumes, according to Dubai Airports. However, the fastest growing regions for passenger traffic during the period included Eastern Europe (+302.4 per cent), AGCC (+28.2 per cent), Russia & CIS (+20.8 per cent), North America (+16.8 per cent), Asia Pacific (+13.2 per cent), and the Indian Subcontinent (+8.3 per cent).