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DXB, which had re-opened in full after the Covid-19 restrictions in mid-2020, forecasts a passenger turnout of 58.3 million this year. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

London Heathrow remained the world’s busiest international airport by seats in June, and close behind at the second spot stood Dubai International.

Heathrow welcomed 3.42 million seats in June, up from 3.38 million in May, while Dubai International welcomed 3.21 million seats in June compared to 3.3 million the previous month, mainly because of the diversion of several flights to Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) for a 45-day period while DXB’s northern runway underwent scheduled refurbishment.

Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt completed the top five, while Istanbul, Doha, Gatwick, Madrid and Singapore Changi wrapped up the top 10, according to a monthly list by global travel data provider OAG.

“Out of the top 10 busiest international airports in June 2022, seven were in the top 10 in June 2019 as well,” OAG said.

Busiest routes

Among the busiest international routes in June, New York JFK to London Heathrow moved up to the top spot, followed by Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Cairo-Jeddah stood third.

Three Dubai routes stood out in the top 10. Dubai to Riyadh (235,700 seats) ranked fifth place, while Mumbai to Dubai (200,573) stood sixth. On the seventh spot was Dubai to London Heathrow (199,200).

DXB, which had re-opened in full after the Covid-19 restrictions in mid-2020, forecasts a passenger turnout of 58.3 million this year after a sharp increase in traffic in recent weeks. The earlier estimates for 2022 were for 55.1 million passengers.

Despite high oil prices, UAE’s airlines could become profitable way ahead of some of their industry peers as they benefit from pent-up travel demand.

In its previous earnings report, Emirates airline said it expects to enter positive territory in 2022-23. This was after the airline narrowed its full year 2021 loss to Dh3.8 billion compared to a loss of Dh22.1 billion a year earlier.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which was in the midst of a turnaround, had a profitable first quarter for the first time in its 18-year history. “This is still a work in progress, but what we have seen is a market that’s come back like a fire hydrant going off,” CEO Tony Douglas said last month. “Yield is still good in terms of ticket pricing.”

The budget airlines are already in blue with flydubai posting a profit of Dh841 million in 2021. Sharjah-based Air Arabia reported a 756 per cent surge in its first quarter profit amid a recovery in global air travel demand.

DXB runway refurbishment

The northern runway at Dubai International underwent a 45-day extensive rehabilitation work from May 9 to June 22.

During this period, DWC handled more than 1,000 flights from several international carriers including flydubai, SpiceJet, Indigo, Gulf Air, Air India Express and Qatar Airways.

Following a strong start to 2022, with more than 13.6 million travellers passing thorough DXB in the first quarter, the refurbishment project was completed in time for the peak travel season, with a busy summer period expected, and the football World Cup in Qatar bringing an extra influx of passengers towards the end of the year, as well as longer term growth in the next decade.

Bolstered by 5.5m in passenger traffic in March, DXB’s passenger volumes rose to 13.6m in the first quarter of 2022, up 15.7 per cent compared to 11.8m passengers in the final quarter of 2021. By comparison, DXB recorded 5.7 million passengers in the first quarter of 2021.

Flight movements during the first quarter totalled 81,966, an increase of 5.8% compared to the last quarter of 2021 during which 77,475 flights were recorded at DXB.