DXB shows positive signs of recovery

Passenger figures through the fourth quarter were higher than expected, paving the way for a better year

Despite an incredibly challenging year for the aviation industry, Dubai International saw positive steps towards recovery with 25.9 million travellers passing through the airport.

Annual traffic figures gathered by DXB show a positive second half to 2020, with 2.19 million customers. Due to the continuation of strong operations – namely by Emirates and Flydubai – services in global markets were able to return.

Dubai Airports
Photo Dubai Airports 

In the second quarter, operations slowed down dramatically as new travel restrictions and border controls were implemented globally. April of last year saw commercial flights come to almost a complete standstill – the first time in its 60-year history.

“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,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. “This, along with technology that will allow for seamless and contactless travel, will 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.”

Over 4000 repatriation and specially organised flights were conducted over the later months of 2020, allowing for more than 500,000 travellers to return to their home countries.

UAE airspace was officially reopened on June 23, 2020 and travelling to Dubai for tourism purposes was permitted from July 7. From then, passenger numbers saw a significant increase until the end of last year.

The operator says recovery is currently looking strong, as there are now 142 destinations served from DXB in 80 markets, which passengers can choose to travel with 56 airlines. Allowing flights to a from Israel at the end of last year meant there was some growth through government alliances.

The top destination country for the airport was held by India, as passenger traffic for last year reached to 4.3 million, followed by the UK. The top three cities travelled to from DXB were London (1.15 million), Mumbai (772,000) and New Delhi (722,000).

DXB has said that all staff working in all areas showed strength and resilience despite facing numerous challenges. The airport was able to maintain business relationships, opening outlets as soon as passenger demand increased.

Dubai’s health authority reacted quickly to situations alongside Emirates who instigated the COVID-19 PCR test facilities set up.

In its fourth quarter, the airport handled 49,603 movements – a 49.8% decrease compared with 2019. The average number of customers also depleted to 188 per flight.

In terms of cargo, DXB handled 570,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2020 – only a 13.3% reduction compared with the previous year.