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Emirates airline will reach full recovery in terms of capacity and network by 2023. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Dubai saw around 2.2 million visitors in the first two months of this year, according to Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim.

Kazim added that overall tourist numbers this year will be higher than 2021 despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “We are seeing huge increases in markets such as Netherlands and France,” said Kazim during the Arabian Travel Market pre-conference on Tuesday.

According to a recent Colliers report, Russia became the second-largest source market for Dubai’s travel and tourism sector in 2021.

Dubai was one of the first tourist destinations to open up in 2020 when most of Europe and Asia was still affected by lockdowns and border closures.

“The fact that we were one of the first tourist destinations to shut down and one of the first to open up and more importantly, remain open, gave confidence to the global expatriate population in Dubai,” said Kazim.

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Emirates ramps up

Emirates airline will reach full recovery in terms of capacity and network by 2023, according to Adnan Kazim, its Chief Commercial Officer.

Emirates is operating at 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity, which will grow to 80 per cent in the summer and from there to 85 per cent in the winter, said Kazim. Kazim said Emirates will operate its full pre-pandemic network by 2023. The airline is currently flying to 130 destinations.

The carrier also announced that it will significantly ramp up its Middle East flight capacity between April 28 and May 8.

“With Eid Al Fitr approaching and more travellers planning to take to the skies, Emirates is responding by offering more flights across seven cities in the GCC and Middle East,” said Emirates in a statement.

2021 numbers

Dubai welcomed 7.28 million international overnight visitors between January and December 2021, a 32 per cent growth compared to the year-ago period.

International visits to the city surpassed 3.4 million visitors in the fourth quarter of 2021, achieving 74 per cent of the total pre-pandemic tourist arrivals of Q4 2019.

Busiest airport

Having clocked up 29.1 million in passenger traffic in 2021, Dubai International (DXB) was the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger numbers for an eighth consecutive year. In 2020, passenger numbers at DXB had dropped 70 per cent to 25.9 million.

Dubai Airports, citing current forecasts, said that traffic through DXB could reach 55.1 million by the end of 2022. It could even exceed that figure by a “significant margin” if current trends continue.

India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB by passenger volume, with passenger traffic for 2021 totalling 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan with 1.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 1.5 million, and the UK with 1.2 million passengers. Other destination countries of note included the US (1.1 million passengers), Egypt (1 million) and Turkey (945,000 passengers).

Following the opening of Concourse A last year in December, DXB became 100 per cent operational for the first time in nearly two years.

Demand for flights to Dubai has surged since the emirate removed mandatory PCR testing for fully vaccinated passengers in February. Many flew in from India and Europe to witness the last few days of the Expo 2020 event, which in total saw over 24 million visitors over a six-month period.

DXB’s numbers will get another boost from India’s resumption of international flights.