Point Me to the Plane writes that Dubai has overtaken London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport.. for international passengers.
Full calendar year 2014 data isn’t in yet, but looking at 2013 data Dubai doesn’t actually come close to Heathrow in total passengers. Heathrow was the world’s third-busiest airport with 72 million passengers and Dubai number 7 at 66 million. It’s only by excluding UK domestic passengers from the totals that Emirates is able to squeak ahead.
So while Dubai may claim the title for a subset of passengers, many will be surprised that it was only the seventh-busiest airport overall in 2013. And much of that is based on connecting traffic, Dubai is a gateway to India and the surrounding region as well as North Africa. While Dubai is indeed a financial center in its own right, and Heathrow has long been a place passengers connect (and dread doing so), Dubai has built itself up with long haul flying shuttle passengers through their modern facilities.
Despite the massive spending spree of Emirates’ cross-country rival a mere hours’ drive away, Abu Dhabi appears nowhere on the list of world’s busiest.
Here are the top 25 airports by number of passengers in 2013:
It surprised me to see Jakarta ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok — although again, domestic Indonesian travel is a driver.
And number 16 Guangzhou beats Shanghai although two airports splitting traffic in Shanghai is a significant contributor to this. Nonetheless, it’s a testament to Chinese growth that while recognized at a high level isn’t broadly understood in the West. Air travel patterns really underscore it.
Number 23 Charlotte had more passengers than Miami, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Houston. With the American Airlines-US Airways merger, going forward I think we’ll expect to see some changes at Charlotte. It will remain an important domestic connecting hub, especially for reaching cities in the Southeast and for North-South connecting trafic along the East Coast. But it may see less Caribbean flying given American’s strength at Miami, and less transatlantic flying given American’s strength at both New York JFK and Philadelphia.