Dubai overtakes Heathrow as busiest international airport

Dubai overtakes Heathrow as busiest international airport

LONDON - Dubai International Airport overtook London's Heathrow Airport to become the world's busiest international air hub in 2014, the operator of the Middle Eastern airport said.

Its passenger numbers, released Tuesday, were up 6 per cent on the year to more than 70 million. Dubai is benefiting from the growing popularity of Middle Eastern airlines, whose location makes them convenient transit points for international travel.

Dubai Airport sharply increased passenger numbers for its routes to Europe as well as to India and other Asian countries last year. Its annual passenger capacity is forecast to increase to 90 million this year due to enhanced airport facilities. Passenger numbers are expected to reach 79 million this year on an increase in the number of flights to and from Dubai.

On the other hand, Heathrow saw its international passenger numbers grow only 1 per cent to 68 million last year. It is difficult for the airport to increase passenger numbers by adding new routes because it has a limited number of departure and arrival slots. The UK's Airports Commission is expected to decide whether to build or expand runways at Heathrow by summer, but the airport will most likely lag behind Dubai in attracting passengers.

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