Dubai International Airport quickly hit its strides after the mid-April deluge. It is now aiming to build on a record Q1-24 passenger intake to set new records for the full year. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai International Airport remains on course to welcome 91 million passengers in 2024, and thus better its previous best numbers of 89.1 million recorded in 2018. The first three months of this year has already seen 23 million fliers use DXB and even the rains during April will not have much of an impact on full-year 2024 traffic.

“We have 250,000 passengers going through the airport every single day,” said Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports’ CEO. “And over the year, I don’t think this (the rains in April) will have a significant impact because we’re back to normal operations.

“People are still arriving and departing as they would normally. A few days of disruption will disrupt numbers in the short term, but in the longer term, I don’t think we’ll have a particular problem.”

Soaring Q1-24 numbers

DXB will particularly look to its January to end March performance as setting the pace for the whole of 2024. The 23 million passengers recorded during the quarter represents an 8.4 per cent rise compared to last year. January was the busiest month, with 7.9 million passengers. The first quarter saw 109,238 in total flight movements, an 8.3 per cent increase year-on-year. (With load factors reaching 79.1 per cent in the first quarter, the passenger per aircraft movement reached 217.)

“As Dubai emerges as a global leader for attracting talent, businesses, and tourists from across the globe, our focus remains on sustaining growth momentum and enhancing the overall airport experience for every guest passing through our terminals,” said Griffiths.

The higher forecasts for 2024 come as Dubai carriers Emirates and flydubai add new cities and raise flight frequencies.

In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Griffiths said he is optimistic that passenger demand will continue to ‘surprise us every time we revise the forecast’. “It is always in the upward direction. So, I think that is going to be a phenomenon that we will have for quite a long time.”

Paul Griffiths
Dubai Airports' forecasts is 'always in the upward direction', says Paul Griffiths. Image Credit: Supplied

Driving economic growth

Dubai Airports said in a statement that the strong numbers also underscore DXB’s appeal to major markets and its contribution to Dubai’s prominence as an international destination for tourism and trade.

“DXB drives Dubai’s economic growth and tourism, with the city registering a 3.3 per cent increase in real GDP valued at approximately Dh307.9 billion,” said a statement.

Top destinations for DXB
India remains DXB’s top destination country, with passenger traffic reaching 3.1 million travelers, followed by Saudi Arabia (2 million), the UK (1.5 million), and Pakistan (1.1 million). Other significant contributors include the US (836,000 passengers), Russia (725,000), and Germany (728,000).

The top cities by passenger numbers include London, with 961,000 guests, Riyadh (795,000), and Jeddah (669,000), followed closely by Mumbai, with 637K passengers.

Investment to continue at DXB

Given DXB’s fast-growing numbers, a new passenger terminal is essential. Griffiths also confirmed that to meet the growing demand, authorities will continue investing in DXB’s infrastructure until the new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport is up and running.

“We will have to maintain the operation; let’s face it, we will have to continue to invest in DXB,” said Griffiths. “Obviously, we have to be a little careful about how much because we have to keep the system alive at DXB.

“We will probably put a cap on what we can actually cost-effectively invest in the infrastructure. Still, we’ve got to keep the quality, and now we’ve got to keep the customer service proposition intact. So, we won’t be turning our backs on DXB.”

Last month, the government of Dubai approved plans for a Dh128 billion new passenger terminal at DWC, which would make it five times bigger than Dubai’s main international airport and the biggest in the world.

The project’s first phase is expected to be ready within ten years, with a capacity to accommodate 150 million passengers annually. Griffiths said: “We will close DXB once its last passenger departs.”