Dubai likes to do things big. Now the city in the United Arab Emirates with the world’s largest mall and the world’s tallest building can add world’s busiest international airport to its list of superlatives.
According to data from Airports Council International, Dubai officially now surpassed London’s Heathrow for international passenger traffic.
Almost 69 million passengers passed through Dubai International Airport over the 12 months ending in September of 2014, compared with 67.8 million at Heathrow. By 2020, Dubai authorities expect that figure to increase to 98.5 million passengers.
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport still holds the world record for overall airline passengers, at over 72 million a year.
But Dubai’s passenger growth has been meteoric if you consider that in 2007, only 34.3 million passengers passed through the airport.
Much of the increase can be attributed to Dubai’s thriving economy and the city becoming a growing tourist destination, with attractions such as indoor ski slopes, international sporting events, and the world’s tallest building and biggest mall. It was the fifth most visited city in 2014, closely behind London and Paris and ahead of New York.
As if that’s not big enough for you, the UAE recently announced plans to allot $32 billion to expand Al Maktoum –the second airport south of the city, which will be able to handle 120 million passengers –making that the busiest airport in the world when completed in 2022.