Dubai remains the world’s busiest international hub with 29.1 million passengers in 2021

Dubai International Airport saw a 12.7% increase in annual passenger traffic in 2021, thanks to a strong fourth quarter, beating its own forecast and retaining the title of world’s busiest international hub for the eighth consecutive year.

The airport, home of Emirates Airlines and a key source of revenue for Dubai, welcomed 29.1 million passengers last year, beating its forecast of 28.7 million, operator Dubai Airports said in a statement on Tuesday. .

“Despite unprecedented unrest affecting millions of people around the world, we have overcome many serious obstacles to the operation of the world’s largest international hub,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. “This … was achieved in the face of abrupt changes in travel regulations and concerns about new waves of [Covid-19] infection.”

Last year’s increase in passenger traffic was helped by the last three months of the year, when DXB handled 11.8 million passengers, 77% more than the previous quarter.

It was the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that DXB’s quarterly traffic exceeded the 10 million mark. December was the busiest month of the year with 4.5 million passengers.

Dubai has seen a strong rebound in tourism in recent months, thanks in part to Expo 2020. The emirate welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors between January and December 2021, up 32% over a year, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism announced earlier. this month.

International visitors to the emirate exceeded 3.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, accounting for 74% of total pre-pandemic tourist arrivals during the same period in 2019.

Dubai Airports currently forecasts 55.1 million passengers will pass through DXB by the end of 2022, which is lower than its previous forecast of 57 million travellers, but said its latest projection could be exceeded by a “significant margin” if current trends continue.

“With the much-anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further relaxation of travel regulations around the world, the outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to lead the global transport sector. airline on the road to recovery,” said Mr Griffiths, who has run public operator Dubai Airports since 2007.

India maintained its position as the top destination country for DXB last year in terms of passenger volume, with traffic totaling 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan with 1.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 1 .5 million and from the UK with 1.2 million passengers.

Other notable destination countries include the United States (1.1 million), Egypt (1 million) and Turkey (945,000 passengers).

DXB’s top destination cities in 2021 were Istanbul with 916,000 passengers, followed by Cairo (905,000), London (814,000) and New Delhi (791,000).

The airport currently serves 198 destinations in 93 countries via 84 international airlines – “much more” than in 2019 before the pandemic, Dubai Airports said.

The number of flights handled in 2021 increased 28.1% year-on-year to 233,375. The average number of passengers per flight fell 18.9% year-on-year to 154.

Air cargo volumes in 2021 continued to grow, increasing by 20% to 2.3 million tonnes.

After reopening the final phase of Concourse A at Terminal 3 last year, DXB is operating at full capacity after 20 months of reduced operations due to the pandemic. Dubai World Central, the emirate’s second airport, will reopen its passenger terminal in May.

Increased passenger traffic has also boosted retail sales at airports. Dubai Duty Free’s annual sales jumped 40% to MAD 3.56 billion ($970 million) in 2021.

It expects annual sales to rise 40% to 5.1 billion dirhams in 2022 and plans to recall more of its staff made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic as passenger traffic through the busiest international airport of the world continues to grow.

Updated: February 22, 2022, 4:15 a.m.