Abu Dhabi International Airport saw strong growth in passenger and cargo traffic in the first eight months of 2012, outpacing Dubai's competing airport, according to figures released by the Abu Dhabi airport authority on Saturday.
The number of passengers passing through Abu Dhabi between January and August jumped 21.5 per cent from a year earlier to 9.68 million, while cargo traffic increased 17.3 per cent to 364,905 tonnes.
Figures published by Dubai's airport operator earlier this week showed its passenger traffic rose 13.4 per cent to 37.78 million during the same period, while freight volume expanded 3 per cent to 1.48 million tonnes.
Over the last couple of years, the Abu Dhabi airport, home to the emirate's Etihad airline, has started to emerge as a significant competitor to the larger airport in neighbouring Dubai, where Emirates airlines is based.
One reason is the growth of Abu Dhabi's tourism industry.
Hotel guest arrivals in Abu Dhabi rose 15 per cent from a year earlier in the first eight months of this year, state news agency WAM quoted tourism authorities as saying on Saturday.
Both airports are investing heavily in anticipation of further growth. In June, Abu Dhabi signed a $US2.9 billion ($A2.8 billion) contract for construction of a new terminal, which is to open in 2017.