Dubai International Airport has eclipsed Frankfurt Airport to become the fourth largest by international passenger traffic.
Annual traffic results for last year show Dubai edging out Frankfurt, the base of the German carrier Lufthansa, by just 7,000 passengers, according to Dubai Airports, which manages Dubai International and Al Maktoum International Airport. The world's largest international hubs ahead of Dubai were London, Paris and Hong Kong.
Dubai's steady rise is being propelled by Emirates Airline, which is the world's largest international airline by capacity ahead of Lufthansa.
It has been expanding its fleet at a rate of at least one wide-body aircraft, such as a Boeing 777 or an Airbus A380 superjumbo, each month.
Another Dubai airline, flydubai, which is only 20 months old, is also expanding, receiving a Boeing 737 nearly every month and adding routes at a rate of one every three or four weeks. In addition, 130 international airlines connect with the Dubai hub. January data for Dubai International show a 10 per cent increase in year-on-year passenger numbers and a 3.9 per cent rise in international freight volumes.
January passenger numbers topped 4.25 million, an increase of 10 per cent compared with 3.87 million in the same month last year. The January figure put the airport over the 4 million passenger mark for the fifth time in seven months. Aircraft movements for the month totalled 27,385, up 7.3 per cent from 25,522 recorded in the same period last year.
This growth was mirrored in the capital, where passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport increased by 7 per cent to about 1 million in January compared with a year earlier. The number of aircraft movements in the capital rose 9 per cent to 9,900, while cargo traffic rose 13 per cent from the same period last year. The top regions for traffic were the Far East and Europe, followed by the Middle East.
In Dubai, the biggest traffic growth occurred on routes to and from the GCC, the Indian subcontinent, western Europe and Asia.
Passenger traffic to and from Russia and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States was up 23.3 per cent because of flydubai's expansion into that region, including service to Yerevan in Armenia, and Yekaterinburg and Samara in Russia.
"January's numbers are in line with our projections for an 11 per cent increase during 2011 to a total of 52.2 million passengers," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. "We have enjoyed an auspicious start to 2011."