First-half traffic at Dubai International Airport surpasses pre-pandemic levels

By Simon Warburton |

Dubai Duty Free will offer a special 25% discount on a wide range of products.

DXB’s H1 traffic was up 49.1% year-0n-year versus 27.9m recorded in H1 2022.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has hailed passenger traffic in the first half of this year exceeding the level of the equivalent period in 2019 as “a significant milestone.”

The world’s busiest international hub handled 41.6 million passengers in H1 2023, slightly more than 100% compared with the traffic recorded during the first six months of 2019.

DXB notes a “robust performance” in the second quarter, during which passenger traffic surged by 42.7% year-on-year to reach 20.3 million.

News of the strong first-half performance comes as the airport celebrates its 40th anniversary, with Dubai Duty Free (DDF) eyeing sales in excess of $2bn this year.

“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,” said DDF Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin.

May busiest month

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

May was the busiest month during Q2, with 6.9m passengers.

“It’s been a rewarding first half for Dubai International and amid increasing guest numbers, we take great pride in knowing we are continuously delivering with operational excellence and providing an exemplary guest experience,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

“Recent stories of our team delivering a unique guest experience at DXB  include communicating with a guest with a hidden disability using a translator tool, working with our stakeholders to locate a lost passport minutes before the passenger’s flight was due to depart, helping a guest recover his lost wallet from his hotel after he cleared immigration and even reuniting a little boy in the UK with his beloved stuffed bunny after he had been left behind at DXB.”

In H1, DXB successfully managed multiple seasonal peak periods and exceeded agreed KPIs in collaboration with the airports’ partners.

DXB received certification from ACI for its ongoing efforts to prioritise a safe and inclusive airport experience for passengers with both physical and hidden disabilities, as well as adding several new airlines and expanding connectivity to new destinations and countries.

India continues to lead as DXB’s top destination country in terms of traffic with 6m passengers in the first half, followed by Saudi Arabia with 3.1m guests and the UK with 2.8m guests.


Other leading destinations include Pakistan (2m passengers), the US (1.8m passengers), Russia (1.3m passengers) and Germany (1.2m passengers).

The list of top city destinations was led by London with 1.7m guests, Mumbai (1.2m guests) and Riyadh (1.2m guests).

DXB handled a total of 201,800 flights in the first half, up 30.2% year-on-year and by +13% compared to the same period in H1, 2019.

The average number of passengers per flight during the first half reached 214 while the load factor was 77%.

Outlook for H2, 2023

Looking to the remainder of the year, Dubai Airports is optimistic about the levels of demand and is expecting record-breaking numbers during the winter season.

“We started the second half with strong demand in July and with the ongoing seasonal peak coinciding with the reopening of schools in August, we’re preparing for an exceptionally busy rest of the year,” added Griffiths. “We’ve readjusted our forecast for the year from 83.6m guests to 85m, just 1.6% shy of DXB’s annual traffic in 2019.”

DXB is connected to 257 destinations across 104 countries, through more than 91 international airlines.

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