UPDATE 1-Dubai, Abu Dhabi airport traffic surges in 2013
DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Passenger flows through Dubai's main airport, the world's second busiest for international traffic, jumped 15.2 percent in 2013 thanks to expansion of its route network and the use of wide-body planes, airport authorities said on Wednesday.
Passenger traffic last year totalled a record 66.4 million people. In December, more than 6 million passengers passed though the airport for the first time, an increase of 13.6 percent from a year earlier.
At current rates of growth, Dubai will this year surpass London's Heathrow to become the world's busiest airport for international traffic. Last year Heathrow's traffic rose 3.4 percent to 72.3 million people, according to data released by the airport.
Dubai's double-digit traffic growth rates in recent years have been based on the emirate's tourism and trade booms. Flagship airline Emirates and budget carrier flydubai are expanding their route networks in Africa, eastern Europe and elsewhere, while the airport last year opened a dedicated terminal for Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.
India remained Dubai's single largest destination country last year with 8.4 million passengers, up 14.3 percent. Britain was second with 5.1 million passengers, up 19.0 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia, up 34.2 percent to 4.8 million.
Cargo volumes also hit a record in 2013, rising 6.8 percent to 2.44 million tonnes. In December, cargo rose 8.0 percent to 218,138 tonnes.
Dubai launched passenger services at its new Al Maktoum International airport last year and Emirates is expected to move operations to the new facility after 2020, a senior executive said on Tuesday.
Neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi's international airport reported a 12.4 percent rise in passenger traffic for 2013 to 16.5 million passengers.
The airport, which is expanding its facilities to handle up to 30 million passengers a year by 2017, said it received 1.5 million air travellers in December, up 14.4 percent from a year earlier.
Abu Dhabi handled 706,000 tonnes of air freight last year, up 24.4 percent; in December alone, cargo jumped 27.0 percent to 66,000 tonnes.