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Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Feb 23, 2022
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Dubai’s international airport predicts return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers by 2024

By
AFP
Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
Feb 23, 2022

Dubai’s international airport remains the world's first for passenger numbers, and by 2024 it plans to return close to its pre-pandemic levels, from which it is still “quite far,” as its CEO told the AFP agency on Tuesday.


Travellers at Dubai Airport on February 22 2022 - AFP


In 2021, approximately 29.1 million passengers transited through Dubai, equivalent to “an annual growth of 12.7%,” as Dubai International Airport (DXB) indicated in a press release on Tuesday. The figure “exceeded the forecast for the year by over half a million passengers, thanks to a solid last quarter,” added DXB. “We are quite far from our pre-pandemic levels,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, in an interview with AFP.

According to Griffiths, DXB is targeting 57 million passengers for 2022, though he hopes to “beat that target.” He believes that “by the end of 2023 we will be much closer to our pre-pandemic levels,” relying on a gradual increase of Australian and Asian traffic.

In 2019, more than 86 million people travelled through DXB. The following year, as air travel slowed down brutally due to Covid-19, only 25.9 million passengers travelled through the airport, a staggering 70% decline.

“It is highly gratifying to see that for the eighth year in a row we are still the world’s busiest international airport, a very good result,” noted Griffiths.

“This means that, even though our figures are not what we would like them to be, other airports have clearly done worse than us,” he added.

The airport closed in March 2020, and reopened its doors to international travellers in July the same year. Dubai, a tourist destination renowned for its luxury hotels and lavish attractions, imposed only one lockdown at the height of the pandemic, and then relied on a sweeping vaccination campaign.

Thanks to its airport and the Emirates airline, the premier operator in the Middle East, air transport is a crucial industry for the Gulf emirate, which is relatively less oil-rich compared to its Arab neighbours.

In 2019, some 16 million foreign tourists visited Dubai. In 2021, the figure dropped to just over seven million visitors, despite Dubai hosting the World Expo, which opened in October 2021 and will run until the end of March 2022.

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