Dubai airport retains top global spot for 5th year

A passenger walks through a "smart tunnel " at Dubai International Airport. Using face recognition tecnology, the passage checks passengers' passports as they walk (AFP Photo/GIUSEPPE CACACE)

Dubai (AFP) - Dubai International Airport said it retained its top global spot in 2018 after serving the largest number of passengers for the fifth year in a row despite falling short of its target.

Traffic at the major transit hub rose slightly to 89.15 million passengers, up just over 1.0 percent on the number who used the airport in 2017, it said in a statement.

Although the figure is a new record high, it missed on the 90.3 million passengers Dubai airport had projected for 2018.

Indians retained the top position with 12.28 million passengers last year and Saudis came in second with 6.47 million travellers, overtaking Britons.

Passengers from east Europe made the largest growth with 16.7 percent followed by the Commonwealth of Independent States and Africa, the statement said.

In 2017, traffic at the world's busiest airport grew by 4.6 million passengers or 5.5 percent.

Dubai's non-oil based economy has faced a slowdown in the key real estate and tourism sectors.

Dubai International, the base for Dubai-owned carrier Emirates and its budget airline FlyDubai, overtook London's Heathrow airport in terms of international passengers in 2014 and has maintained its lead since.