The skies above Dubai were busy in the first half of the year as the number of passengers flying in and out of the emirate's airport soared to a record high.
A total of 27.9 million passengers passed through Dubai International Airport's three terminals between January and last month - 13.7 per cent more than last year's first half, according to a traffic report released by the airport operator Dubai Airports yesterday.
"Our record first half had some interesting storylines, highlighted by the launch of 12 new routes, the addition of four new airlines and a surge in traffic on routes to Saudi Arabia, USA, Qatar and Australia," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports.
India, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and the United States were the five countries with the greatest passenger volumes during the period.
The results mean Dubai International is on course to meet its target of 56.5 million passengers this year, bringing the airport close to its current annual operational capacity of 60 million.
"The addition of Concourse 3 during the first quarter of 2013 is well timed to boost our capacity to 75 million," said Mr Griffiths.
The airport handled 4.7 million passengers last month, 16 per cent more than June last year. Aircraft movements rose 6.8 per cent in the first half of the year compared with the same period a year ago and was up 5.1 per cent on a monthly basis.
Much of the traffic was bound to usual destinations, with the GCC remaining the market with the largest rise in total passenger numbers, ahead of western Europe and the Indian subcontinent.
In a sign of an easing of the negative impact of the Arab Spring on regional air travel, last month was the first time in nearly a year that Middle East routes registered positive growth in traffic.
But new routes continue to generate demand. South America remained the strongest market in terms of percentage passenger growth as a result of new Emirates Airline services to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, followed by Russia, former Soviet Union countries and Australasia.
Air cargo volume rises did not keep pace with passenger volumes, however. Air cargo volumes rose to 1.08 million tonnes during the first six months, rising 2.2 per cent compared with a year ago.