Twenty-sixteen was a good year for air travel, if passenger traffic records are to be believed. Across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, numerous airports’ passenger traffic numbers shattered pre-existing records throughout 2016 – whether in individual months or higher annual passenger traffic than ever before.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific takes a look at a few of those airports that broke passenger traffic records last year:
Singapore Changi Airport
Hitting a 5.9 per cent overall growth in passenger numbers over the previous year, Singapore’s Changi Airport saw a total of 58.7 million travellers pass through in 2016.
According to the airport, South East Asia, North East Asia and Oceania routes contributed the vast majority of the airport’s passenger traffic growth, at approximately 90 per cent. Particularly noteworthy was the rise of China from fifth- to third-largest country market, growing some 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, the airport’s busiest routes remained relatively steady, with Jakarta retaining its position as the busiest route from Changi.
Melbourne Airport set a number of new records in 2016, among them a 10.2 per cent year-on-year increase in international travellers in December last year. The growth resulted in a December record of 952,855 international passenger departures and arrivals for the airport.
The airport also recorded a total number of international passenger departures of 511,238 for December 2016 – the first time the airport has handled more than half a million passengers in a single month.
The airport’s total 2016 passenger traffic, meanwhile, grew 4.6 per cent over 2015 to 34.6 million.
“We saw tremendous growth in overall passenger volumes throughout 2016,” said Lyell Strambi, Melbourne Airport’s CEO. “The challenge for Melbourne Airport in 2017 is to ensure we enhance our capacity to accommodate even further growth, with forecast passenger volumes that are unprecedented in the history of this vitally important asset.”
Hong Kong International Airport
While Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) passenger traffic growth was close to half of that of Changi, at 2.9 per cent, its overall passenger numbers were higher, reaching a new annual height of 70.5 million.
“During the past year, HKIA also achieved new daily records in flight movements and cargo volume, reaching 1,270 flight movements and handling over 16,700 tonnes of cargo,” said Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong.
Local Hong Kong resident travel was the biggest contributor to the HKIA’s passenger traffic growth, hitting 11 per cent year-on-year growth over the same month in 2015, with the overall largest increases occurring to and from Japan and Europe.
Having achieved its eight-millionth passenger in a single year for the first time on New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to say Adelaide Airport managed to achieve its new record truly in the nick of time. The airport served a total of 8.007 million domestic and regional passengers in 2016, with international passengers being the market with the strongest growth.
According to the airport, the additional 50,000 people that travelled overseas in 2016 had much to do with the introduction of Qatar Airways and China Southern services in May and December, respectively, along with new domestic services.
“It’s great to reach a milestone like this,” said Adelaide Airport managing director, Mark Young. “We estimate the eight-millionth passenger would have been flying in or out of Adelaide early afternoon on New Year’s Eve. That equates to close to 22,000 passengers per day on average, or nearly 1,300 passengers per hour of operation (6am – 11pm).”
Dubai International Airport
While Dubai International narrowly missed hitting record-breaking numbers in December last year, it did manage to set a new record for passenger traffic in July, only to break it again the following month. In August last year, Dubai International saw a record of more than 7.7 million passengers pass through – throughout 2016 the seven million monthly passenger mark was hit a total of six times.
These figures contributed to the airport retaining its title as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers, hitting a total of 83.6 million in 2016. Asia marked the second-strongest region for growth coming in at 11.4 per cent, behind only Eastern Europe.
“After emerging as the world’s number one airport for international passengers in 2014, DXB has firmly established itself as the leader in that category,” said Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths. With our new forecast for 89 million passengers in 2017, DXB is closing the gap on Atlanta and Beijing for the top spot in overall traffic.”