DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The world's busiest airport for international travel is growing again.
Dubai International Airport opened a new concourse on Wednesday with the arrival of a British Airways flight from London. The new, $1.2 billion concourse will boost the airport's capacity from 75 million to 90 million passengers annually, officials said.
The newly opened Concourse D will be used by more than 70 international airlines that fly in and out of Dubai International, by far the Middle East's busiest airport. It is linked to the airport's existing Terminal 1 by an airport train.
The extra space will give fast-growing hometown carrier Emirates, the Mideast's largest airline, more room to expand.
The government-owned airline has emerged as a powerful force in the aviation industry over the past three decades, funneling regional and long-haul transit traffic through its Dubai hub to connect cities across the globe. It now boasts the biggest fleet of both the Boeing 777 and double-decker Airbus A380.
Emirates expects to take over space being freed up in Terminal 1's Concourse C, which is currently dominated by foreign carriers, as a result of the expansion.
British Airways and Royal Jordanian will be the first airlines to use the new concourse, with other carriers phasing in operations over the coming weeks.
Business at Dubai International continues to grow at a rapid clip, with traffic numbers rising more than 10 percent, to 78 million passengers handled last year. It surpassed London Heathrow as the busiest airport for international traffic in 2014.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of government-backed airport operator Dubai Airports, predicts Dubai International will handle 85 million passengers in 2016.
It still trails Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the title of world's busiest airport overall. The U.S. airport handled more than 100 million passengers last year.
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