London Heathrow’s long-held crown is about to be passed to a new airport as the old order of things starts to get left behind.
Dubai International Airport is expected to be named the world’s busiest international airport once 2014s statistics are published at the end of January. This is the airport which handles the most passenger traffic from international destinations.
Heathrow has had this title for many years, but has been stagnating as it operates at near 100% capacity, unable to grow any further until more runways and slots are made available.
Yet for Dubai, it can only look up. The existing airport has grown massively alongside hometown Emirates Airline, and has seen a number of expansion projects adding concourses and upgrades to its terminal and runways over recent years. The draw of the region for tourism, commerce and employment has meant many airlines from around the world adding flights to Dubai.
Meanwhile Heathrow has been struggling to cope with demand, with some airlines trading rare landing slots for millions of dollars. Passenger figures have settled with no room to grow, and few chances of adding a new runway in the immediate future as the UK government looks at options.
Although Heathrow will relinquish its ‘busiest international’ title, it is still expected to remain marginally busier than Dubai in total passengers handled.
Dubai is planning much greater growth. The new Dubai World Central (Al Maktoum) airport will eventually take over as the main international airport, with a planned five runways. In addition, Emirates Airlines’ growth continues with many more Airbus A380s and other widebody aircraft scheduled to join the fleet in the near future.