The final 3 months of 2023 saw in significant increases in passenger throughput at Dubai Airport, with COP28 and the year-end events lending a hand. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai International Airport oversaw 87 million passengers through 2023, recording a year-on-year growth of a substantial 32 per cent. The numbers also point to a significant uptick in fourth quarter traffic at the airport, helped by the COP28 event and the year-end festivities.

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"This exceptional performance reflects Dubai's commitment to maintaining its lead", said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in a tweet on Monday.

In 2022, the airport had clocked in 66 million in passenger traffic. As it gave updates on quarterly numbers this year, Dubai Airport had regularly updated its own forecasts on what 2023's eventual numbers would be.

The latest update was provided in November, and then the estimate had been for 86.8 million. The final tally shows that the forecast was spot on.

What's in store for 2024?

Early projections show that DXB is expected to have 88.8 million guests in 2024, putting the 'hub within striking distance of the all-time high record set in 2018 at 89.1 million'.

“Dubai is setting new benchmarks in passenger experience with excellence levels and innovative technologies that constantly redefine airport services," said Sheikh Ahmed. "Consistent with the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s Top 3 cities for tourism and business over the next decade, the city continues to grow rapidly as a global aviation hub and the world’s preferred gateway for international travelers."

Goes past the 2019 tally

Incidentally, the 2023 performance beats the 2019 passenger volumes, which was the year before Covid came about. That year, Dubai Airport had seen in 86.3 million. Over the medium-term, Dubai Airport is setting its sights well beyond that, at 100 million and more, as its domestic airlines add to their fleets, including deploying the massive Airbus A380s on high-traffic routes. (DXB is currently connected to 262 destinations in 104 countries through 102 international carriers.)

"2023 was an exceptional year and is a testament to our unwavering commitment to innovation, efficiency and delivering exemplary guest experience," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. "This translated to DXB achieving its highest internal engagement scores – a reflection of our commitment to fostering a collaborative culture, where every contribution is valued and every employee is empowered to their full potential."


Number of flight movements through DXB in 2023 - and the highest ever total to date

December delivers

With 7.8 million passengers, December was the busiest month during fourth quarter 2023. The October to end December phase oversaw 22.4 million guests, a year-on-year growth of 13.8 per cent.

Compared to Q4 of last year. Q3 'remained the quarter with highest traffic since 2019', with 23 million passengers while August, with 7.9 million guests, was the month with the highest traffic.

Top country, top city

India had the top spot among destination countries with 11.9 million fliers, followed by Saudi Arabia with 6.7 million guests and the UK with 5.9 million. Other major destinations were Pakistan (4.2 million), the US (3.6 million), Russia (2.5 million), and Germany (2.5 million).

London retained its position as the top destination with 3.7 million passengers passing through DXB, followed by Riyadh with 2.6 million, and Mumbai with 2.5 million.