Dubai Airports says it expects to see a 13.6 per cent increase in international passenger traffic next year, driven by the opening of its new airport, expansion of Dubai's airlines and improved economic conditions. Total passenger traffic is expected to reach 40.5 million this year, according to Dubai Airports. Next year, it is set to top 46 million at Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International, which is scheduled to open in June. "Improving economic conditions, state-of-the-art infrastructure, strong expansion by Emirates Airline and emerging low-cost carrier flydubai and an open skies policy that promotes market access to other international airlines are driving this growth," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. More than 125 carriers serve 210 destinations from Dubai International Airport. "Dubai is located four hours' flying time from one third of the world's population and 12 hours from 80 per cent of the population," Mr Griffths said. "Dubai International has seen traffic triple in just eight years." In the first seven months of this year, Dubai International handled 23.1 million passengers. Last year's total was 37.4 million. Abu Dhabi International Airport reported 4.6 million passengers for the first half of this year. About a million passengers are to pass through Dubai World Central next year after it opens its first phase in June, with the new airport set to eventually become the world's largest airport, with a capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo per year, Dubai Airports said. The first phase of the airport, valued at US$820 million (Dh3.01 billion), will have a single A380 compatible runway and a passenger terminal with a capacity of 5 million passengers a year and can be expanded to receive 7 million passengers annually. There will be a cargo terminal capable of handling 250,000 tonnes a year, which could be expanded to 600,000 tonnes and a dedicated road link to the region's port in Jebel Ali. The next major phases of the development will incorporate up to four passenger terminals. The project is to be completed by the end of the next decade, Dubai Airports said. The latest monthly traffic figures from UAE airports for July showed strength. Abu Dhabi airport said passenger numbers increased 10.3 per cent in July compared with the same period a year earlier, while Dubai Airports reported a 12.6 per cent rise. Despite the economic downturn, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways are investing heavily to compete with carriers such as British Airways to win a larger share of international air travel demand. Emirates operates 14 daily non-stop flights from Dubai to the UK. The airline flies non-stop to six continents from its international hub in Dubai, and will launch new services to Durban in South Africa on October 1 and Luanda, Angola, on October 25. The airline plans additional flights to India by November. In addition to increasing services, Dubai airlines have also had to cut fares, like many carriers globally, to prop up ticket sales. The airlines have lowered fares an average of 20 per cent. "Aviation is big business in Dubai, contributing at least 25 per cent of Dubai's GDP," Mr Griffiths said. "That will only get bigger as the growth in this sector continues." email@example.com
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