For the first two months of 2014, Dubai International Airport has seen more international passengers come and go than any other airport in the world — a claim formerly held by London Heathrow. Lead by aggressive expansion of Emirates and FlyDubai airlines, Dubai handled 1.8 million more passengers during the period over Heathrow.
It should be noted that London isn't the most pleasant place to visit during the winter months, but Dubai's passenger numbers represent a 13.5 percent increase over last year. This is on top of a 15.2 percent growth from 2012 to 2013. Sustained growth throughout the year would certainly give Dubai the full-year title for the first time.
While speaking to the media on Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic Founder Sir Richard Branson was critical of the British government for not approving a much-needed third runway at Heathrow, saying:
"There's a danger of slipping into the dark ages as we haven't had a new runway in Britain since 1945 and we have only two runways at our main airport. It's hopeless situation in the country."
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times."Heathrow is an aging airport with poor aviation rulings that has restrained its growth potential, allowing the likes of Dubai to surpass it."
Branson also commended Dubai's bold growth, as it builds a much larger second airport, Al Maktoum International, also called Dubai World Central (DWC). DWC is currently open and operating while still under construction, with a master plan that includes six runways along with a massive cargo hub and center for private planes.
Dubai World Central master plan - via DWC
Once completed, DWC expects to handle up to 12 million tonnes of cargo and 160 million passengers. It will have the capability of accepting the arrival of up to four simultaneous Airbus A380 superjumbo planes. Dubai's primary international airline, Emirates, currently flies the A380 to twenty destinations around the globe.
Top photo by Jan Michael Pfeiffer on Flickr - Licensed for Creative Commons Commercial Use