Stock Dubai airport 2021
Winning them back... Dubai Airport's passenger numbers are starting to climb back again. But the biggest breakthroughs will come with UK and India getting back into flight mode. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai International Airport saw passenger numbers of 5.75 million in the first three months of 2021, a sharp drop of 67.8 per cent from first quarter of 2020, which was just before the COVID-19 breakout hit the world and the airline industry.

"Despite the ongoing challenges to air travel as the world continues to battle against the impact of the global pandemic, as an important hub, DXB will continue to play its role of enabling mobility and connectivity and contribute to the much needed social and economic recovery globally," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

"Whilst passenger numbers for the first quarter remained significantly below the monthly volumes we handled before March 2020, in the context of the current global situation they are very encouraging and reflect the consolidation phase in our business recovery."

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Busiest routes

India retained its position as DXB's top destination country with passenger traffic reaching 1.38 million, propelled by top destinations New Delhi and Mumbai. These numbers will take a dive with the recent suspension of flights from that country until early May.

Pakistan was placed second with 454,294 travellers, followed by Bangladesh (221,027) and Russia (196,890). Other destination countries of note include Egypt and Turkey. The top three cities were New Delhi (262,035 travellers), Dhaka (178,593) closely followed by Addis Ababa (169,715).

Cargo traffic, which has shown more resilience compared to the passenger segment throughout the pandemic, continued its strong recovery despite the reduction in belly-hold capacity. Dubai Airport handled 550,811 tonnes of airfreight during the first three months - a year-on-year increase of 3.2 per cent.