Dubai International Airport (DXB) saw nearly 86.4 million passengers pass through its doors for the 12-months from January to December 2019 – enough for it to easily retain its position as the busiest airport worldwide for international passengers. In fact, DXB welcomed six million more international passengers than it’s closest rival, Heathrow Airport (LHR).
But last year’s passenger numbers were down 3.1 per cent on the 89.1 million passengers the airport processed in 2018. It’s the first time the airport, which is home to the airlines Emirates and flydubai, has seen annual passenger numbers drop.
DXB said performance had been affected by a number of “challenges” throughout the year that had pushed down passenger traffic. Not least of which was a 45-day closure in April and May 2019 of one of only two runways that keep the 24-hour operation running.
Dubai Airport’s said it had become necessary to completely shut the southern runway for a complete refurbishment because the runway had come to the end of its design life.
Airlines that use the airport were asked to reduce or consolidate some services, while some traffic was shifted to Dubai World Central airport (DWC) for the duration of the work. The airport estimated that available seat capacity fell by 29% during the closure.
A spokesperson for Dubai Airport’s also blamed the Boeing 737MAX grounding for some reduction in passenger numbers. Dubai’s government-owned budget carrier flydubai has ordered 175 Boeing 737MAX 8’s and had been counting on the aircraft to drive expansion. Those plans remain on hold.
“While customer numbers in 2019 were lower than the preceding year, the impact of the 45-day closure of the runway, the bankruptcy of Jet Airways, as well as the grounding of the Boeing’s 737 Max accounted for an estimated 3.2 million passengers over the course of the year, and indicate underlying growth at DXB,” explained Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airport’s.
India remained the top destination country from DXB, followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. A major growth market was China, which saw 3.6 million passengers come and go from DXB .
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.