It’s appropriate, it seems, to begin the first blog post of the (New) New Silk Road Monitor with a story about airports and Dubai and a Top Ten List. Aviation and logistics will be a perennial theme in these pages, and my own New Silk Road journey has been enhanced over the years by multiple visits (and one posting) to the trade, tourism, and logistics hub of Dubai, which I called the unofficial hub of the New Silk Road as far back as 2007 in a Washington Post column. You’ll also see that I like Top Ten lists. So, here goes:

Dubai International Airport hit 89.1 million international passengers in 2018, according to airport officials. This keeps Dubai comfortably in first place for the 5th year in a row as the world’s busiest international airport. Dubai surpassed London Heathrow in 2014 and it has never looked back (On a total passenger basis, including domestic, Atlanta-Hartsfield and Beijing International remain larger, but Dubai reigns supreme for international passengers and is inching toward Beijing and Atlanta-Hartsfield in absolute numbers of passengers as well).

I’m a regular visitor to Dubai and a regular connector via Dubai International Airport to other destinations and I can say that if Dubai is emerging as a major New Silk Road trade hub, with its robust trading relationships across Asia and Africa and the Middle East, then Dubai International Airport might be the Caravanserai of the New Silk Road. The number of nationalities, colors, and national dresses in the airport is dizzying, and the airport is crying out for anthropological study (Phd students, take note!).

Part of the story is the global reach of Emirates Airline, but you can’t get to 89.1 million passengers with just Emirates, so the other part of the story is the Open Skies policy that leads Dubai International to host 80 airlines serving 214 cities.

Here’s the top ten list for 2017 for world’s busiest international airport with the number if international passengers. When 2018 numbers are tallied, I’ll post those too.

World’s Busiest International Airports

  1. Dubai, AE (DXB) – 87.7 million
  2. London, GB (LHR) – 73.1 million
  3. Hong Kong, HK (HKG) – 72.4 million
  4. Amsterdam, NL (AMS) – 68.4 million
  5. Paris, France (CDG) – 63.6 million
  6. Singapore, SG (SIN) – 61.57 million
  7. Incheon, KR (ICN) – 61.52 million
  8. Frankfurt, DE (FRA) – 57.12 million
  9. Bangkok, TH (BKK) – 48.8 million
  10. Taipei, TW (TPE) – 44.4 million

For the rest, see Airports Council International

DXB Vitals

  • 526 Check-In Counters
  • 80 Airlines Operating
  • 220 Airports Served
  • 214 Cities Served
  • 94 countries Served

Source: Dubai Airports