For the first time ever, Dubai International Airport has overtaken London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international traffic.
Dubai Airports released its year-end traffic report on Tuesday, in which it reported a total of 70.4 million passengers in 2014, up 6.1% over the previous year.
In comparison, Heathrow reported around 68.1 million international passengers in 2014.
“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,” said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, in a statement.
“The shared goal is to make Dubai a global center of aviation and we are nearing that goal thanks to an open skies policy, a friendly business environment, Dubai’s growing attractiveness as a center for trade, commerce and tourism, growing network connectivity due to the rapid expansion of Emirates and flydubai and timely investment in aviation infrastructure.”
The figures are somewhat surprising given Dubai International’s aircraft movements totaled 357,339 in 2013, down 3.4% from 2013.
This decrease was primarily due to the temporary reduction of flights during an 80-day runway refurbishment project during the summer, with some operations shifted to Al Maktoum International, Dubai’s second airport, at Dubai World Central (DWC).
So how did Dubai International end up with more passengers in 2014?
In 2014, the number of passengers per flight increased 5.1 percent to 208.3 for the full year.
The airport attributes this boost to the ongoing increase in the number of wide-bodied aircraft servicing the facility.
Dubai-based airline Emirates has 57 A380s, making it the world’s largest operator of the double-deck, wide-body jet.
“Much like 2014, 2015 promises to be another eventful year featuring more record passenger numbers and facility upgrades including the opening of Concourse D which will boost Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
The airport also released 2015 traffic projections this week, saying it expected to see 79 million passengers this year.