Dubai International clocks 29.1m pax in 2021; optimistic traffic forecast in 2022

By Luke Barras-hill |

DXB surpassed its full-year passenger forecast by more than half a million. Source: DXB.

While Dubai International Airport (DXB) has forecast passenger traffic of 55.1 million by the end of this year, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has stated the figure could be overtaken ‘by a significant margin’.

The assessment comes as DXB racked up 29.1 million passengers in full-year 2021, representing year-on-year growth of +12.7%.

This result, which exceeded the hub’s full-year 2021 passenger traffic forecast by more than half a million, cements its position as the world’s busiest international airport for an eighth consecutive year.

Passenger numbers were boosted by robust growth in the final quarter of 2021, during which DXB recorded 77% more passengers (11,794,046) than the prior quarter.

Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports. Source: DXB.


It marked the hub’s busiest since Q1 2020 and the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that quarterly traffic broke 10 million. In December alone, DXB registered 4.5m passengers.

Describing an eventful year coloured by pandemic uncertainty, Griffiths points to several important milestones: Dubai taking the lead in restoring global air travel by successful hosting the Dubai Airshow and the return of DXB to 100% operating capacity with the reopening of Concourse D and Concourse A.

As reported, partner Dubai Duty Free (pictured below) posted sales of Dhs 3.563 billion/US$976 million in 2021 – a 40% increase compared with 2020.

Furthermore, DXB opened the globe’s largest in-house laboratory for fast-track Covid-19 PCR test samples for visitors and welcomed a record number of new airlines to the benefit of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Griffiths said: “Despite unprecedented turmoil affecting millions of people all over the world, we overcame many serious obstacles to the operation of the world’s largest international hub and provided smooth, comfortable and safe travel for millions of people travelling through DXB.

“This incredible performance by all of our staff and stakeholders was achieved in the face of abruptly changing travel regulations and concerns about new waves of infection. Despite these serious challenges to our ongoing success, we managed to exceed our own forecasts and continue to retain our crown as the world’s busiest international airport.

“With the eagerly anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further easing of travel regulations around the world, the outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to  lead the world’s air travel sector on the road to recovery.”


Middle East

MEADFA Conference 2024 ‘heading to Abu Dhabi on 17-19 November’

This year’s Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) Conference will take...


DFWC Q1 2024 KPI Monitor indicates rise in duty free impulse purchases

Impulse purchasing within global duty free is on the rise, according to the latest Duty Free...

Asia & Pacific

Avolta details “bold and ambitious” goals to grow its APAC business

With a number of key developments coming to fruition, including its operations at Wuhan Tianhe...

image description

In the Magazine

TRBusiness Magazine is free to access. Read the latest issue now.

E-mail this link to a friend