DXB keeps its title as the world’s busiest international airport

Dubai International (DXB) continues to be the world’s busiest airport by international passengers for the eighth consecutive year, reaching 29.1 million passengers per year in 2021.  DXB’s annual traffic exceeded year-over-year forecasts by more than half a million passengers thanks to a good last quarter.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, described an eventful year that, despite the uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic, contained many milestones demonstrating several bold steps taken by Dubai and its aviation sector to lead the global air travel recovery, including the successful hosting of Dubai Airshow 2021, the world’s first major airshow since the pandemic began, DXB returning to 100 percent operational capacity with the reopening of Terminal 1-Concourse D and Concourse A, and the opening of the airport’s largest in-house laboratory for accelerated processing of Covid-19 PCR test samples for Dubai visitors. The airport also welcomed a record number of new airlines connecting Dubai to new destinations and, along with the rest of the city, created a warm welcome for the millions of Expo 2020 Dubai visitors.

Current projections suggest traffic through DXB could reach 55.1 million by the end of 2022, but Griffiths admits that if current trends continue, that number could be exceeded by a significant margin.

For all of 2021, DXB took in 29,110,609 passengers, an increase of 12.7 percent year-over-year. These numbers were driven by strong growth in the last three months of the year, during which DXB took 11,794,046 passengers, a 77% increase over the previous quarter. It was the busiest quarter since the first quarter of 2020, and for the first time since the pandemic began, DXB’s quarterly traffic surpassed the 10 million mark. December was the busiest month of the year with 4.5 million passengers.

India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB in terms of passengers, with passenger traffic for 2021 at 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan with 1.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 1.5 million and the UK with 1.2 million passengers. Other destinations include the U.S. (1.1 million passengers), Egypt (1 million) and Turkey (945,000 passengers).

DXB’s top destination cities in 2021 were Istanbul with 916,000 passengers, Cairo (905,000), London (814,000) and New Delhi (791,000 passengers). DXB is now connected to 198 destinations in 93 countries through 84 international carriers, significantly more than in 2019 before the pandemic.

Freight traffic continued to perform strongly throughout the year, reaching 614,834 tons in the fourth quarter (7.5%), resulting in a 20% increase in annual freight volume in 2021 to 2,319,185 tons.

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