Dubai International Airport kept a tight schedule of flight services through the first six months, even with work going on at one of the runways. The final passenger count for H1-2022 confirm that the moves have paid off. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Passenger numbers through Dubai International Airport (DXB) more than doubled in the first six months of 2022, to 27.9 million, reinforcing the gains Dubai’s travel and tourism sector has been making since opening up after peak Covid. Passenger traffic for H1-21 was 10.6 million.

The world’s busiest international airport also raised its full-year 2022 forecast to 62.4 million passengers from previous estimate of 58.3 million. “DXB’s recovery from the impact of the global pandemic has been spectacular, and that position has been strengthened during 2022, particularly during the second quarter,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

“Not only has Dubai Airports been successful in managing the recovery, but customer service quality has been maintained throughout.

“We knew at the start of the pandemic that the dramatic downturn would be followed by an equally dramatic upturn, so we were well prepared for it and using all of the business data at our disposal were able to predict the start of the recovery.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

July and August traffic should show an even greater pick-up as UAE’s citizens and residents took their well-earned summer breaks. The higher H1-22 numbers came despite a significant reduction in capacity resulting from the 45-day closure of DXB’s northern runway in May-June for a major refurbishment project.

Quarterly high

DXB recorded 14.2 million passengers in the second quarter of 2022, a year-on-year jump of 190.6 per cent. The airport’s traffic volume represented 67.5 per cent of its pre-pandemic passenger traffic during the same period in 2019.

  1. During H1-22, 96% of DXB's passengers queued for less than 5 minutes at departure passport control, while the average queue times at security checks for departures was less than 3 minutes for 97% of total passengers.
  2. “Smart Gates are now speeding customers through the immigration process and our advanced operations control centre uses real-time information to improve service and efficiency across all touchpoints," said DXB in a statement. "Customer waiting times have also remained short despite surging traffic.”
  3. DXB processed 27.1 million bags in H1-2022 with a success rate of 99.8%. In terms of baggage delivery on arrival, 92% of all baggage was delivered within 30 minutes. The current baggage volume represents 77.2% of pre-Covid 2019 volumes.

Top destinations

India remained DXB’s top destination country by passenger numbers with traffic for the first-half, reaching 4 million passengers, driven primarily by demand for Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Saudi Arabia was second on the list with 2 million passengers, followed closely by UK with 1.9 million. Other country destinations of note include Pakistan (1.7 million passengers) and the US (1.4 million passengers).

The Top Three cities for travellers from DXB were London with 1.3 million passengers, Riyadh (910,000 passengers), and Mumbai (726,000 passengers).

Cargo demand takes a dent

DXB’s total freight volume for the first six months of 2022 came up to 910,075 tonnes, down about 19 per cent from a year earlier. Cargo traffic was impacted during the second quarter by the moving of major freight operators back to Dubai World Central (DWC) in March.

“As a significant portion of the cargo traffic at DXB is carried within the hold of passenger aircraft, the total cargo throughput was affected by the reduction in capacity due to the northern runway refurbishment programme, which took place between May 9 and June 22,” said Dubai Airports.

Flight movements

During the first six months of the year, DXB handled a total of 154,993 flight movements, up nearly 56 per cent compared to the first half of 2021. The figure represents 87 per cent of the pre-pandemic flight movements during the first half of 2019.

Top place

Dubai International (DXB) retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport in August, with over 4 million seats deployed, according to aviation data firm OAG.

DXB had an international capacity of 4.09 million seats in August, unchanged from last month’s numbers. London Heathrow, which took the second place, saw its capacity drop 4 per cent in August from the month before.

In July, Heathrow introduced temporary capacity limits on outbound flights to improve airport operations amid a severe staffing deficit. Airports in UK and Europe were forced to cancel thousands of flights over the last few months as they could not ramp up hiring to meet a surge in travel demand.

However, London Heathrow was still the busiest airport in Western Europe with a capacity of 3.6 million. “The drop in capacity is because of airlines adjusting capacity downwards to better manage resources and ensure schedule integrity,” said OAG.

Amsterdam Schiphol airport, which also has capacity cuts in place, came in the third spot with 3.15 million seats. Frankfurt International airport came in fourth with 3.11 million seats, while Gatwick, UK’s second-largest airport, moved into the 8th spot from the 10th spot.

DXB did not experience long waiting times and cancellations like its European counterparts.