DXB 2022 passenger numbers ‘outpace’ forecast to hit 66 million

By Kristiane Sherry |

DXB passenger numbers soared by 127% to hit 66m in 2022

Passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport (DXB) exceeded 66 million in 2022, representing year-on-year growth of 127%. 

An ‘exceptionally strong’ fourth quarter to December saw almost 20m passengers travel through the airport.

December itself, with 7.1m passengers, was the busiest month, and the first time since January 2020 that traffic hit the 7m mark. 

The data shows that DXB remains the world’s largest airport by passenger movements.

India remained the top 2022 destination country by volume, with 9.8m passengers over the year. Saudi Arabia, with 4.9m, ranked second, ahead of the United Kingdom with 4.6m. Other notable destinations include Pakistan (3.7m), the US (3m), and Russia (1.9m), which, alongside Turkey (1.6m), has seen more than 100% recovery in 2019 volumes.

Top destination cities included London (3m passengers), Riyadh (2m), Mumbai (1.9m), and Jeddah and New Delhi with 1.7m passengers each.

The airport currently connects 229 destinations in 99 countries, via more than 88 international carriers.

Flight movements hit 47% growth

The number of flights through DXB also climbed in 2022. The airport saw a total of 343,339 flight movements, with 96,701 in Q4, representing 47% year-on-year growth.

The average number of passengers per flight climbed by a third to 204.

DXB says its baggage handling record was ‘impressive’ in 2022

Cargo however saw a 31.7% decline in Q4. Volumes fell to 420,125 tonnes over the period. Over the whole year, cargo volumes contracted 25.5% to 1.7m tonnes.

DXB said this was due to all major freight carriers moving to Dubai World Central (DWC), and pax-freighter aircraft returning to passenger operations.

Airport operations ‘impressive’

Dubai Airports CEO said the surge in passengers in 2022 was ‘stronger than anticipated’.

DXB’s baggage handling system processed 62.2m bags in 2022, with a 99.8% success rate. 92% of baggage was delivered in 45 mins or less. There were 2.2 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, a rate the airport cited as ‘impressive’.

2022 baggage volumes hit 86.2% of 2019 levels.

More than 95% of arriving passengers queued for less than 13 minutes at passport control. For departures, over 96% waited for less than five minutes.

Average departure security queues were less than three minutes for over 96% of passengers.

“We knew it was the year when growth would return to the air travel sector in a big way, but the surge was much stronger than anticipated and we had to do our best to turn that challenge into an opportunity,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

“Thanks to the planning, preparation, and all the collaboration and hard work of our people across the airport community, we were ready to meet the challenge of rapid recovery in customer numbers while delivering significant improvement in our service quality across the board.”

With a forecast of 78m passengers in 2023, Griffiths says this will be “another year of new challenges and opportunities”.

“Our top priority in 2023 will be our customers, our people, and sustainability – three key areas that are crucial to our aspirations and goals as the world’s busiest global hub, a preferred employer, and as a key player and trend-setter in the world’s aviation industry.”

Last month, m1nd-set data confirmed that DXB had retained its spot as top international transit hub in 2022.

Retail operator Dubai Duty Free registered 2022 annual sales of US$1.74 billion, representing a 78% increase over the previous year.

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