Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport grew 8 percent in 2011 boosted by additional flights to the Gulf Arab region’s main transport hub, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.
The world’s fourth busiest airport in terms of international passenger and cargo traffic handled 51.0 million passengers last year up from 47.2 million in 2010, it said in its annual report.
In December, passenger traffic reached 4.7 million in December, up 10.2 percent over the same prior-year period.
“In a year that was characterized by economic uncertainty, political instability and high oil prices, passenger growth continued unabated driven by new routes and additional frequencies,” Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, said in a statement.
“That trend will continue in 2012 with our two largest airlines, Emirates and flydubai, set to receive additional aircraft throughout the year.”
Unrest across the Middle East and weaker global economic conditions hit passenger and air freight traffic last year.
Aircraft movements for the full year 2011 totaled 326,317, up 6.2 percent from 2010, Dubai Airports said.
The strongest passenger growth came from India, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar, Germany and the United States.
Government-run Dubai Airports owns and manages Dubai’s two airports, Dubai International and the new Al Maktoum International which opened for cargo operations in 2010.
The operator plans to invest $7.8 billion in airport expansion to boost current capacity from 60 million passengers a year to 90 million by 2018.
“Aviation is big business in Dubai supporting 250,000 jobs and $22 billion in economic activity or 28 percent of gross domestic product,” Griffiths said.
He said expanding airport infrastructure would generate $45.4 billion in economic activity or 32 percent of GDP by 2020.
Analysts polled by Reuters in December forecast the overall economy of the United Arab Emirates to expand by 3.1 percent this year after an estimated 3.9 percent in 2011.