Dubai World Central, the UAE's major new airport near Jebel Ali, last year handled almost one and a half times more air freight than passed through its hangars in 2011.
Dubai World Central's results come as the International Air Transport Association (Iata) reported global air freight markets had rebounded strongly in November last year, expanding by 1.6 per cent after a 2.6 per cent year-on-year decline in October.
Dubai Airports, which runs Dubai World Central, yesterday announced traffic statistics that showed the airport handled 219,092 tonnes of air freight during its second full calendar year of freight operations, an increase of 144 per cent over 2011.
Aircraft movements almost doubled over 2011, with 16,317 movements for the year, up 99 per cent from 8,198 recorded in 2011. Last year, more than 30 airlines operated into Dubai World Central, predominantly as cargo charter operations. Of these 15 were scheduled services.
"Less than three years after its opening Dubai World Central is fast emerging as a significant cargo airport in the region," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. "That emergence is set to continue as airlines take advantage of the airport's facilities, road feeder service to Dubai International and bonded link to the Jebel Ali port."
"The flexibility in operations at Dubai World Central continues to attract new cargo operators, with eight new airlines launching services to the airport during 2012, including ZetAvia, Abakan Aiva, Silk Way Airlines, Khalton Air, Sakavia Services, Iran Aseman, Vision Air and Saudi Arabian," said a Dubai Airports spokesman.
"An increasing amount of Dubai Airports' total cargo is projected to be handled at Dubai World Central in the years ahead with cargo volumes for both airports projected to top three million tonnes by 2015."
Dubai Airports, which owns and manages the operation and development of both of Dubai's airports, said that last year Dubai World Central's average monthly air cargo volumes totalled 18,258 tonnes compared with 7,477 tonnes recorded during the airport's first full year of operations in 2011. Cargo transit traffic comprised 44,052 tonnes or 20 per cent of volumes.
Dubai International, the world's third busiest airport in terms of international passenger and cargo traffic, handled 2,279,624 tonnes of air freight last year.
According to Iata figures out yesterday, Middle East carriers' freight showed the strongest year-on-year growth of any region, up 16 per cent last year, on just a 6.1 per cent rise in capacity. Load factor surged to 46.7 per cent, up 4 percentage points.
"November brought some positive signs for air transport demand, particularly for air cargo," said Tony Tyler, Iata's director general and chief executive. "It is premature to consider this a turning point for air cargo markets in terms of bouncing back and regaining lost ground. But, when coupled with positive economic developments in the US and an improvement in business confidence in recent months, the conditions are aligning to see a return to growth in 2013. In 2013 we expect that cargo volumes will grow 1.4 per cent, and passenger traffic will increase by 4.5 per cent worldwide."
Other Dubai World Central figures showed that general aviation traffic is also expected to pick up this year with the recent opening of the new Al Majlis facility.To be operated in partnership with private aviation groups ExecuJet and Jet Aviation, it will be within the passenger terminal building. The new Al Majlis has six lounges capable of accommodating 80,000 passengers a year.
"It offers a viable alternative to business travellers by providing greater flexibility in terms of general aviation departures and arrival slots," added Mr Griffiths. "Its proximity to the fast-growing business area of 'new' Dubai is an added attraction."