DUBAI: Passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport this year will eclipse 2019 passenger numbers, showing the strong rebound in travel after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns that grounded planes around the world, it said a senior official on Wednesday.

The airport, the busiest in the world for international travel and headquarters of the long-haul airline Emirates, has had 64.5 million passengers passing through its cavernous concourses during the third quarter of this year. That puts it on track to reach 86.8 million passengers for the full year, which would surpass its figure of 86.3 million passengers in 2019. It had 66 million passengers last year.

The airport’s busiest year was 2018, when it had 89.1 million passengers.

“So by the end of the year, current predictions are 86.8 million, slightly less than pre-pandemic numbers.” Paul Griffiths, Dubai airports CEO, told The Associated Press in an interview at the Dubai Airshow. “But actually, hopefully, by the end of the year we’ll be able to increase that forecast.”

continue below

He added: “I think now that we have the full network with 250 destinations, 95 airlines and 105 countries, that is why we have been able to recover so strongly.”

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest passenger airport overall.

During the third quarter, Dubai’s main airport carried out a total of 308,000 takeoffs and landings. India, long a key route for Emirates’ East-West travel strategy, led all countries in destinations, followed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United States and Russia. Emirates and other airlines from the United Arab Emirates, an autocratic federation of seven sheikhs, have continued to fly to Moscow even during Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has also slowed traffic to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv to Dubai, which established direct flights after the United Arab Emirates diplomatically recognized the country in 2020. The figures They also remain lower with flights from China, which used to be an important source market for the tourism industry of the Emirates and Dubai.

“Because we have such a diversified network in so many different countries, we have pretty strong demands. And when we have one or two traffic flows that decline, it’s always offset by something that comes back stronger,” Griffiths said. “For example, in the Far East, we are still seeing traffic from China in very low numbers. But as that re-emerges, I am absolutely sure the numbers will be boosted by that.”

Griffiths’ announcement comes during the Dubai Airshow at Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai World Center, the city-state’s second airfield about 45 kilometers (28 mi) from Dubai International Airport. While it was used by commercial airlines when Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the second airport which opened in 2010 primarily serves cargo flights and private planes.

During this year’s show, Emirates announced a $52 billion aircraft purchase with boeing Co., while its sister airline FlyDubai bought another $11 billion of planes from Boeing.

“I think this has been the greatest air show of all time,” Griffiths said. “The atmosphere is great. The confidence is great. The quality of the show is great. I think the prospects for aviation here in Dubai have never been brighter.”

  • Posted on Nov 15, 2023 at 05:40 pm IST

Most read in aviation