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Dubai Airport Busier but not near 2019 numbers

Within a year, the airport anticipates returning to full capacity as it did before COVID.

Following a successful fourth quarter, Dubai International Airport (DXB) exceeded its own prediction by welcoming over 66 million passengers in total for 2022. The airport hopes to reach 2019 levels by the middle of 2024, which equates to about 76% of its pre-pandemic capacity.

a resurgence of DXB

DXB served 66,069,981 passengers in 2022, an impressive 127% growth year over year. But, the airport is still far from the 86.4 million passengers it served in 2019.

CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, stated:

“We predicted that this would be the year that the aviation industry would experience significant growth again, but the surge was much more intense than we had anticipated, so we had to work hard to turn this issue into an opportunity.

We were prepared to meet the challenge of a quick rebound in customer numbers while providing a major improvement in our service quality across the board thanks to the planning, preparation, and all the collaboration and hard work of our personnel across the airport community.”

India was once again the top destination nation by passenger volume, with 9.8 million travelers, followed by Saudi Arabia (4.9 million) and the UK (4.6 million). In reality, some nations, including Russia (1.9 million) and Turkey, have entirely regained their pre-COVID capability (1.6 million).

In terms of individual cities, London took the lead with 3 million passengers, followed by Riyadh (2 million) and Mumbai (1.9 million). With a successful baggage handling record of 99.8% after processing 62.2 million bags in total in 2022, the airport demonstrated its excellent operational efficiency with a rate of just 2.2 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers.

The average wait time for passport control was less than five minutes for over 96% of departing passengers and less than 13 minutes for over 95% of arriving passengers.

Fourth quarter was “extraordinary.”

The airport outperformed expectations in the last quarter of 2022, serving 19,729,155 passengers, a 67% increase over the same period the previous year and its biggest quarter since the COVID epidemic. With 7.1 million passengers handled in December, it was the biggest month of 2022 and the first time since January 2020 that DXB exceeded 7 million passengers.

The number of airplane movements during the fourth quarter increased by 47% year over year to 96,701, while the average trip carried 204 passengers, up by 33%. Despite the growth in passenger operations, Dubai’s cargo capacity will decrease by 25.5% over 2022 as a result of the return of major freight operators to Dubai World Central (DWC) and the conversion of numerous “preighter” aircraft to passenger operations.

This year, a full recovery?

With the help of China’s reopening earlier this year, the airport anticipates receiving 78 million passengers between now and 2023. There is certainly space for growth for the seven Chinese destinations that DXB now serves with its approximately 25 weekly flights provided by five different airlines.

CEO Griffiths predicts that by Q4 2023, the airport will have fully recovered its pre-pandemic capacity. According to Griffiths’ remarks in The Independent

“We anticipate that monthly traffic will consistently exceed the seven million mark, putting us very much on track to return to pre-pandemic levels, if not by the first half of 2024, then at least by that time.

I’ll be astonished if we don’t reach pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter of this year, but it won’t be much later than the fourth quarter of 2023 before traffic returns to its pre-pandemic levels.”

More than 88 foreign airlines fly into DXB, which provides connections to 229 destinations in 99 different countries. This year’s substantial increase in travel demand was anticipated by the airport, which helped it avoid the travel turmoil experienced by much of North America and Europe.

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