DXB shows strong recovery after unprecedented year

posted on 15th February 2021 by Eddie Saunders
DXB shows strong recovery after unprecedented year

Dubai International (DXB) made positive strides towards recovery after a challenging year with a total of 25.9 million customers travelling through the airport in 2020, a decrease of 70% compared to 2019.


The airport’s official annual traffic figures, announced today, showed a positive second half of the year, after a difficult second quarter, with December exceeding industry expectations at 2.19 million customers. The closing data showed a noted recovery in many areas, especially the return to services in global markets thanks to the strength in operations of Emirates and flydubai, and the confidence shown by international airlines coming back into the region.


Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports commented “In the past year we have witnessed the most difficult circumstances the travel industry has ever faced. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt not only in our sector, but across the entire world. These DXB passenger traffic figures are reflective of that testing environment, but also come with an element of hope and confidence.


An integral part of recovery for the travel and tourism industry is rebuilding the confidence of travellers, and one way to do this is through a vaccination programme, similar to what is currently being carried out by the UAE government. This, along with technology that will allow for seamless and contactless travel, will once encourage more people to get on a plane. In addition, we have transformed our DXB and DWC cargo operations. As an intercontinental hub we are well positioned to support the distribution of vaccines from the countries manufacturing them, to the world.


Looking forward, we are confident of a steady, but optimistic outlook. We are constantly monitoring future schedules and bookings, working with airlines on their plans to return to DXB and new routes to be introduced. This will allow us to ensure we have sufficient capacity and operational capability available to support as the recovery gains pace.”

DXB welcomed a total of 25.9 million passengers for the full year of 2020 (-70%).


During the first quarter of 2020, DXB saw 17.8 million customers (-20%) travel through the airport. This significantly slowed through the second quarter due to the ensuing events around the world. For the first time in the 60-year history of the world’s busiest international airport, the month of April saw commercial flights come to almost entire halt, as directed by the UAE government. Over the subsequent months, some 4,100 specially organised and repatriation flights from DXB and DWC allowed more than 500,000 travellers to return to their home countries.



From a markets and destination perspective, the recovery is strong. There are now 142 destinations (61% recovery) served from DXB in 80 markets (85% recovery) on 56 airlines (75% recovery). There was some growth through the government alliances being made in the latter part of the year, allowing flights to and from Israel.


India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB by passenger numbers, with traffic for 2020 reaching 4.3 million, followed by the United Kingdom with 1.89 million customers and Pakistan coming in third with 1.86 million customers. Other destination countries of note include Saudi Arabia with 1.45 million customers in 2020.


The top three cities were London (1.15 million customers), Mumbai (772 thousand customers) and New Delhi with 722 thousand customers.