Top 10 Airports talk retail amid pax comeback

By Luke Barras-hill |

In customary fashion, TRBusiness presents its bumper annual special report on the top 10 airports ranked by international passenger traffic volumes.

Based on ACI World preliminary data, Dubai International (DXB), Heathrow (LHR) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) make up the top three, as some of the largest hubs re-enter the rankings (released in April), marking an important milestone in the air traffic recovery after several tumultuous years.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) retained its position as the world’s busiest, welcoming more than 66 million international pax in 2022, up 127% on 2021 and representing a -23.5% change on 2019.

Speaking to TRBusiness, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, commented: “Overall, the recovery is doing well, as per the latest forecast for traffic growth at the airport, and based on the current sales trajectory, we expect a full rebound this year.

“We are positive that we will meet our target by year-end, which is AED 7.5 billion or in excess of US$2.5 billion. Apart from our current renovation plans for our arrivals and liquor and tobacco shops, we will continue to work closely with our suppliers to ensure we offer a great product range and that our growing staff continues to provide excellent customer service. All these factors will ensure penetration and average spend continues to improve.”

A sign of resilience

The data also shows the strong bounce back of London Heathrow Airport into 2nd place, serving more than 58.2 million pax last year. This represents growth of+230.5% on 2021, when the hub slid into 7th place.

“Since the pandemic begun, we have launched 43 new retail and F&B outlets or pop-ups across the terminals, with 30 of these happening in 2022 alone,” said Fraser Brown, Retail Director, Heathrow Airport.

“Heathrow, alongside our luxury brands, are focusing more than ever on building relationships with passengers. I believe the pandemic accelerated this need, as the retail experience became more distant online transactions, when all non-essential retail was closed for months at a time.

Source: ACI World. Click to enlarge.


“We are taking this into account at Heathrow, collaborating with luxury retailers to create engaging shopping experiences. We have found investing in personalisation and interactive opportunities really does drive participation and spend.”

Meanwhile, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has shown stability, ranking in 3rd place consistently, with healthy growth of +105.8% year-on-year (2022 vs 2021).

According to ACI World, global passenger traffic reached close to seven billion in 2022 – a 53.5% increase from 2021 and a 73.8% recovery on 2019.

The figures show that the top 10 airports for total passenger traffic, representing 10% of global traffic, witnessed a gain of +51.7% from 2021, amounting to an 85.9% recovery in relation to their 2019 results.

To read the full report featuring exclusive interviews, analysis and commentary, click here.

Main images credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com_



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