Last year’s figure represents a 12 percent increase in traffic at Dubai International Airport compared to 2020, which had recorded almost 26 million visitors.
Dubai International Airport
On February 22, Dubai international airport retained its top position as the world’s busiest for international travel with around 29 million passengers shuttling through the global gateway last year.
- The 2021 passenger figures are encouraging for the tourism-driven economy of Dubai, regarded as a critical connection between East and West. The numbers are a movement that the international journey has picked up rather since the coronavirus pandemic spawned unprecedented international lockdowns and border closures in 2020.
Last year’s figure represents a 12 percent increase in traffic at Dubai International Airport compared to 2020, which had recorded nearly 26 million travelers. Still, even with 29.1 million passengers crisscrossing last year through Dubai International Airport, or DXB, the figure is nowhere near the pre-pandemic milestone of 86.4 million in annual traffic logged by the airport in 2019.
Dubai is nowadays hosting the six-month-long World’s Fair, which was postponed by a year due to the pandemic. Expo 2020, which opened in October and runs until the end of March, has attracted millions of travelers as well as heads of state, royalty, and celebrities, helping to further cement Dubai’s reputation as an international destination. It’s unclear, though, what the overall contribution of the Expo has been to Dubai’s financial recovery.
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- Just over 70 percent of Dubai’s airport visitor figures last year represent comings, with much of those likely residents traveling to and from the emirate. Before the pandemic, around half of all passenger figures were transiting through Dubai.
CEO of Dubai Airports
CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, said DXB forecasts 57 million travelers to come through the airport this year, and full recovery to pre-pandemic figures by 2024. “Dubai has done such an excellent job in reassuring visitors. It’s a safe city to visit and to come and holiday and do business. So I believe the actual trends to recovery are very encouraging, indeed,” Griffiths told.
It marks the eighth consecutive year that Dubai International Airport clinches the mantle of the world’s busiest for international travel, surpassing London’s Heathrow and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson for international travelers, although the latter is among the busiest in terms of overall passenger traffic.
The biggest share of traffic to Dubai came from India, with 4.2 million travelers, followed by Pakistan, with 1.8 million travelers last year. A key growth market for travel to and from Dubai is neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is actively operating to attract business and tourism in direct competition with Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates.
The UAE is home to more than 100,000 British citizens. Dubai’s main airport logged 1.2 million passengers from the U.K. Last year, including 77,000 in December alone.
United Arab Emirates aviation authority
Dubai, under orders from the United Arab Emirates aviation authority, was forced to ground all passenger flights and close its airports for eight weeks in spring of 2020. Unlike the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi, though, Dubai quickly reopened its doors to travelers.
The UAE was red-listed as a ‘do not travel’ country by the U.K., the U.S., and other nations for much of last year. “What we’re now trying to do is campaign globally for the relaxation of travel restrictions and testing,” Griffiths told.
“But we now see the need for that is receding. We just need to get governments to recognize that fact and act quickly to clear the remaining travel restrictions.”
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