DUBAI: Dubai International (codename: DXB) has retained its position as the world's No. 1 airport for international passengers for the fourth consecutive year — with annual traffic for 2017 reaching 88.2 million passengers, according to the annual traffic report issued by operator Dubai Airports on Monday.
Propelled by high traffic volumes averaging 7.35 million passengers per month throughout the year, including the record months of January, July and August when traffic breached the 8-million passenger mark, DXB's traffic reached 88,242,099 passengers for the full year.
This is up 5.5% compared to 83,654,250 passengers recorded during 2016.
The airport welcomed 7,854,657 passengers in December, up 1.9% compared to 7,706,351 recorded in the same month in 2016.
DXB welcomed six new scheduled passenger airlines during the year, including SalamAir, Badr Airlines, and Air Moldova, while home based carriers Emirates and flydubai added 3 and 10 new passenger destinations and increased frequency/capacity on 31 and 22 routes respectively.
India continued its domination run as the single largest destination country for DXB with 12,060,435 passengers in 2017, up 5.4% compared to 11,440,215 passengers recorded in 2016. The UK claimed the second spot with 6,466,404 passengers (+6.7%), overtaking Saudi Arabia which recorded 6,364,598 passengers (4.6%).
Markets showing the most significant growth during the year included Russia with passenger numbers surging 28% to 1,339,534 and China with 2,212,179 passengers, up 19.4% over 2016. The surge follows the relaxation of visa regulations by the UAE to offer visa on arrival for both Russian and Chinese visitors. Thailand, bolstered by additional capacity deployed by Emirates through a switch to two-class A380 service, also registered robust growth of 15.2% with passenger numbers reaching 2,445,053 in 2017.
London retained its position as the top destination city with 4,011,598 passengers, followed by Mumbai with 2,477,771 passengers and Jeddah with 2,113,820 passengers.
Top regions in terms of percentage growth in 2017 were South America (36.1%), Eastern Europe (25.3%) and Asia (17.9%) mainly spurred by network expansion by Emirates, flydubai and other carriers.
The average number of passenger per flight grew 6.9% to 223 during the year compared to 209 for 2016, mainly due to DXB's position as the world's largest hub for wide body aircraft, particularly for the A380.
The number of flight movements during 2017 totalled 409,493, down 2.4% compared to 419,654 recorded in 2016. December's flight numbers totalled 35,132 compared to 36,065 in the corresponding month in 2016, down 2.6%.
DXB witnessed some fluctuation in cargo volumes during the year but thanks to the bumper growth in March (8.4%), August (11.8%*) and September (5.8%), 2017 freight volumes reached a record 2,654,494 tonnes, up 2.4% compared to 2,592,454 recorded during 2016. In December DXB handled 229,019 tonnes of cargo compared to 230,122 tonnes recorded in the same month during 2016, a minor contraction of 0.5%.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: "It was a very successful year for DXB as we not only achieved robust growth in traffic to solidify our position as the world's number one international airport, but also delighted our customers with a range of new and exciting services and innovative products."
"With passenger traffic expected to reach 90.3 million in 2018, our focus in the new year will be on the DXB Plus programme which aims to expand the airport's annual capacity to 118 million passengers through process improvements and use of new technology," Griffiths added.