Dubai’s main airport announced Tuesday that it is still the busiest international gateway with 29 million passengers using the facility last year.
Dubai is a key link between East and west, so the 2021 passenger numbers are positive. These numbers indicate that international travel is improving since the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which caused unprecedented global lockdowns. The Dubai International Airport saw a 12 percent increase in traffic last year compared with 2020, which had seen nearly 26 million visitors.
Even with 29.1 Million passengers traversing Dubai International Airport last year, this figure is still far below the 2018 pre-pandemic milestone, which was 86.4 million.
Dubai hosts the six-month-long World’s Fair . This event was delayed by one year because of the pandemic. Expo 2020 opened in October, and will run until March. It attracted millions of visitors, as well as royalty and celebrities . This has helped cement Dubai’s status as a world-class destination. However, it is not clear what Expo’s overall impact has been on Dubai’s economic recovery.
Over 70% of Dubai’s airport travelers figures for last year were arrivals. Most of those likely residents travel to and from Dubai. Before the pandemic, approximately half of all passengers transited through Dubai.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports said that DXB projects that 57 million people will use the airport this year and that there will be a complete recovery to pre-pandemic numbers by 2024.
“Dubai has done such an excellent job in reassuring tourists. It is a safe place to visit, holiday or do business. Griffiths stated that he believes the current trends in recovery are encouraging.
This marks the eighth consecutive year Dubai International Airport has been named the world’s busiest airport for international travel. It surpasses Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and London’s Heathrow for global travelers. However, the former is the busiest overall in passenger traffic.
With 4.2 million visitors last year, India accounted for the largest percentage of traffic to Dubai. Pakistan was second with 1.8 million. Saudi Arabia is a key market for travel from Dubai to other countries. It is actively seeking to attract tourism and business in direct competition to Dubai and the larger United Arab Emirates.
More than 100,000 British citizens live in the UAE. Dubai’s main airport handled 1.2 million passengers from the U.K. in 2013, including 77,000 in December.
Dubai was ordered by the United Arab Emirates aviation authorities to ground all passenger flights and close its airfields for eight weeks during spring 2020. Dubai, however, opened its doors quickly to tourists, unlike Abu Dhabi which is the UAE’s capital. Dubai does not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter. It also doesn’t require a negative virus test for most places. However, this approach comes with a price. For much of the last year, the U.K., U.S., and other countries had red-listed UAE as a “do no travel” country.
Griffiths stated that they are now working to campaign worldwide for the lifting of restrictions on travel and testing. We now see that the need for this is diminishing. It is up to governments to acknowledge this fact and to act swiftly to lift any remaining travel restrictions.
The UAE’s overall coronavirus infection rates are still low. The UAE has taken a proactive approach to inoculating more than 9,000,000 people against COVID-19. Most of these are residents of other countries and have all been able receive the vaccine at no cost.
Although masks are required in public places in Dubai, the pandemic is not likely to affect daily life in the city. This week, Novak Djokovic, a Serbian tennis player, stepped onto the Dubai Duty Free Tennis court to play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. It was his first tournament since he was ejected from Australia. He also missed the first Grand Slam event of the year because he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.