In the past five years, the annual number of passengers traveling through Dubai International Airport — home to Emirates — has jumped from 28.8 million to 51 million, a 77 percent increase. The airport now sees more passengers than New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Everybody accepts that the balance of global economic power is shifting to the east. The geographic position of the Gulf hubs makes them much more relevant today,” says Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia.
Persian Gulf carriers are already chipping away at some U.S. and European airlines’ most lucrative business: long-haul international flights. But it’s what’s ahead that really has other airlines worried.
Gulf carriers hold one-third of the orders for the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 — two of the world’s largest and farthest-flying jets. That’s enough planes to put 70,000 passengers in the air at any given moment.