Dubai International surpasses 2019 traffic in ‘spectacular’ 2023

By Kristiane Sherry |

Dubai International passenger traffic

Dubai International passenger traffic has exceeded 2019 levels.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has reported a “record-breaking” year in 2023, with passenger traffic hitting 87 million, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Forecasts suggest that 88.8m travellers will pass through the airport in 2024, close to the all-time high of 89.1 million set in 2018.

The airport also handled more baggage than ever before in 2023, with guest satisfaction scores reaching new highs. 

Passenger numbers were driven by “robust growth” in the second half, according to the airport. December was the busiest month with 7.8m guests with 22.4m in total across the fourth quarter. Q3 was the busiest period since 2019 with 23m guests. 

DXB’s increase in passenger numbers follows travel retailer Dubai Duty Free’s US$14.8 million (Dhs54.2m) in single-day sales as it marked its 40th anniversary on 20 December 2023. It also reported record full-year sales of Dhs7.885 billion/US$2.16 billion, representing an increase of +24.4% year-on-year.

The airport is connected to 262 destinations across 104 countries and is served by 102 international carriers. 

India was the most-visited country with 11.9m visitors, followed by Saudi Arabia (6.7m) and the UK (6.7m). Other notable markets included Pakistan (4.2 million), the US (3.6 million), Russia (2.5 million), and Germany (2.5 million).

London was the top destination with 3.7m passengers, followed by Riyadh (2.6m) and Mumbai (2.5m). 

Dubai International: ‘Operational excellence’

DXB reported its busiest year yet for baggage handling, processing 77.5m bags in 2023. 

Despite a 24.6% year-on-year increase in volumes, the airport’s success rate stood at 99.8%, with just 2.4 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. 

Over 95% of guests waited for less than seven minutes at departure passport control, with security queues less than four minutes for 97.5% of passengers. 

DXB has also achieved record passenger satisfaction levels.

DXB has also achieved record passenger satisfaction levels.

DXB scored 4.44 in ACI World’s Airport Service Quality programme, the highest result to-date for the airport. 

While cargo volumes slipped by 4.5% year on year to 1.8m tonnes, Q4 saw a 20.4% uptick compared to the same period in 2022.

Flight movements soared by 21.3% to 416,405 in 2023, a new record for the airport.

“DXB’s spectacular performance in 2023 is a resounding testament to the visionary leadership and determination of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to achieve growth and excellence across sectors, surmounting all challenges along the way,” said His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. 

“This exceptional performance underscores Dubai’s emergence as the world’s most popular tourism destination and its pivotal role in global commerce and trade, facilitated by the unmatched connectivity, aviation capacity and logistics infrastructure that has been built steadily over the years under His Highness’s leadership.”

“Dubai is setting new benchmarks in passenger experience with excellence levels and innovative technologies that constantly redefine airport services.”

‘One of the world’s top cities’ for tourism

He continued: “Consistent with the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three cities for tourism and business over the next decade, the city continues to grow rapidly as a global aviation hub and the world’s preferred gateway for international travellers. 

“As we celebrate these accomplishments, we remain committed to further enhancing Dubai’s leading position on the global stage.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, added: “I am incredibly proud of everyone at Dubai International, for their dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence, which has propelled us to break many of our own records. 

“2023 was an exceptional year and is a testament to our unwavering commitment to operational excellence, efficiency, innovation and delivering exemplary guest experience. 

DXB Dubai International passengers 3

DXB CEO says the airport is setting the ‘gold standard’ for guest experiences.

“This translated to DXB achieving its highest internal engagement scores – a reflection of our commitment to fostering a collaborative culture, where every contribution is valued and every employee is empowered to their full potential. 

“I want to express my gratitude to our dedicated team, the heartbeat of our organisation, and to our partners whose, collaborative work was instrumental in achieving these milestones. 

“Looking ahead, we’re renewing our commitment to collectively enhance the airport experience for our all our guests by launching significant projects to refurbish facilities at DXB and fortify our infrastructure for future growth. 

“DXB remains firmly positioned as a global leader, setting the gold standard for exceptional guest experiences and international aviation excellence.”

In August 2023, DXB confirmed it handled 41.6 million passengers in the first half of the year, a slight increase on 2019 levels at that point.

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