Dubai International Airport may have achieved a stated ambition even earlier than imagined, overhauling Singapore's Changi International Airport for the first time in terms of the number of passengers handled.
In the first three months of this year, Dubai handled 9.34 million passengers, edging past the 9.32 million passing through Changi's terminals. Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has termed its as "a highly significant milestone in global aviation."
Climbing the rankings ladder this Middle East hub is now only behind Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and London in the international passenger volume stakes.
Reporting a 15.1-per-cent growth over the same quarter last year, it is also likely that Dubai could overhaul Changi even on a full-year basis, handling just under 40 million passengers as compared to slightly over 39 million for Changi.
Dubai International is served by 124 airlines flying to 207 destinations, while Changi has 80 airlines flying to 188 destinations.
The rise of Dubai as a hub is marked by phenomenal growth in the region as passenger volumes in the Middle East have increased almost 20 per cent last year.
Dubai-based carrier, Emirates, may also be one of the reasons for Dubai International's growth as a hub. Like Singapore International Airline, and its two subsidiaries Silk Air and Tiger Airways, Emirates too accounts for nearly 55 per cent of seats each week. When Emirates takes delivery of five Airbus A380 super jumbos later this year, Dubai will provide even more competition.
Changi recorded 36.7 million passengers last year, an all-time high and a 4.8-percent growth over 2006. It also holds competitive advantages as a financial centre of the region.