Dubai to overtake Heathrow as world’s busiest airport

Dubai International Airport is set to overtake London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport next year, News24.com has reported, citing Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company of British Airways and Iberia.

‘In 2001 Dubai was number 99 in the world in terms of international tourist arrivals. London Heathrow was number one. Last year in 2012, Dubai ranked number two. London Heathrow was still number one, but next year Dubai will overtake Heathrow,’ Walsh said, adding that the growth of Dubai as an aviation hub was helped by the enabling role played by the gulf governments.

Walsh said that the government in Dubai recognised the strengths of their geographic location and the value of aviation for the region. ‘So they created the environment for the industry to flourish. They built world class airports and other infrastructure for Emirates and created a tax environment that was in favour of the airline,’ he said.

Dubai Airports chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, also told Bloomberg that Dubai International Airport will overtake London Heathrow to become the world’s busiest civil aviation hub by next year. Dubai’s annual traffic report showed that 57.6m passengers passed through the hub last year, a 13.2 percent increase compared to 2011. The statistics made Dubai the world’s third busiest airport, overtaking Hong Kong International.

Walsh hit out at the UK government’s high aviation taxes, saying: ‘The continued high taxes is madness. And it’s damaging the industry and the UK economy.’

Airline, Bmi, and over 250 UK business leaders have recently asked the UK government to abolish the high air taxes in line with a similar move by Ireland.

In the meantime, a study conducted by travel search site, Skyscanner, has named Heathrow the best European airport for families. Presently the world’s busiest airport, London Heathrow carries almost 70 million passengers each year.