DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport this year will eclipse the pre-pandemic passenger figures in 2019, showing the strong rebound in travel after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns that grounded aircraft worldwide, a top official said Wednesday.
The airport, the world’s busiest for international travel and home of the long-haul carrier Emirates, has had 64.5 million passengers pass through its cavernous concourses through the third quarter of this year. That puts it on track to reach 86.8 million passengers for the full year, which would exceed its 2019 figure of 86.3 million passengers. It had 66 million passengers last year.
The airport’s busiest year was 2018, when it had 89.1 million passengers.
“We’re thrilled but not entirely surprised that DXB is all set to surpass the pre-pandemic milestone well ahead of our initial projections by almost a year,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said in a statement.
Through the third quarter, Dubai’s main airport handled 308,000 total takeoffs and landings. India, long a key route for Emirates’ East-West travel strategy, led all countries in destinations, followed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the U.S. and Russia. Emirates and other airlines in the United Arab Emirates, an autocratic federation of seven sheikhdoms, have continued to fly to Moscow even during Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest passenger airport overall.
Griffiths’ announcement comes during the Dubai Air Show at Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, the city-state’s second airfield some 45 kilometers (28 miles) away from Dubai International Airport. While used by commercial airlines when Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the second airport that opened in 2010 largely sees cargo and private aircraft flights.
During this year’s show, Emirates has announced a $52 billion aircraft purchase with Boeing Co., while its sister airline FlyDubai bought another $11 billion of aircraft from Boeing.