Dubai International Airport is witnessing a strong recovery after an unprecedented year

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has taken positive steps towards recovery after a challenging year with annual traffic reaching 25.9 million passengers in 2020, down 70% compared to 2019.

The annual traffic, officially announced by Dubai Airports today, showed positive numbers in the second half of the year, as the month of December exceeded the aviation industry forecast by 2.19 million passengers.

The final data showed a remarkable recovery in all areas, specifically the return of services in global markets thanks to the strength of Emirates Airlines and flydubai operations, and the confidence shown by international airlines to return to the region.

"Last year was undoubtedly one of the most challenging years in recent times," said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths. Also with an element of hope and confidence.

Rebuilding travelers' confidence is an integral part of the recovery in the travel and tourism industry, and one way to do this is through a vaccination program, similar to the UAE government program.

In addition to the technology that will allow smooth and contactless travel, which will encourage customers to travel again.

Additionally, we shifted DXB and DWC shipments.

As a continental hub, we are well positioned to support vaccine distribution from countries that manufacture them, to the world.

We are confident that the outlook is steady and optimistic.

We are constantly monitoring future schedules and reservations, and are working with airlines on their plans to return to Dubai International Airport and new destinations to be introduced.

This will confirm that we have sufficient capacity and operational capacity available to support the pace of recovery. "

Important facts and figures

Dubai International Airport handled 25.9 million passengers over the course of 2020 (down by 70%).

During the first quarter of 2020, Dubai International Airport welcomed 17.8 million passengers (-20%).

This number slowed significantly during the second quarter due to ensuing events around the world.

For the first time in 60 years in the history of the world's busiest international airport, April saw commercial flights completely halt, as directed by the UAE government.

Over the following months, 4,100 return home flights from DXB and DWC (although DWC traffic numbers are not counted here), for more than 500,000 passengers.

- On June 23, 2020, the authorities officially reopened the UAE’s airspace and allowed travel to Dubai for tourism purposes from July 7, 2020. These regulatory changes had a positive impact on flight movements and a significant increase in the number of passengers, until the end of the year.

Average passenger traffic numbers in the third and final quarters peaked at 1.3 million.


The recovery is strong in terms of global markets and destinations, there are now 147 destinations (61% recovery) served from Dubai International Airport in 80 markets (85% recovery) on 56 airlines (75% recovery).

There was some growth through government alliances made in the last quarter of the year, allowing flights to and from Israel.

- India retained its top position as the largest destination at Dubai International Airport in terms of passenger numbers, with the total number of passengers for 2020 reaching 4.3 million, followed by the United Kingdom with 1.89 million passengers, and Pakistan ranked third with about 1.86 million passengers.

The other countries that come on the list of the largest destinations include Saudi Arabia, with 1.45 million passengers.

- The first three cities were London (1.15 million passengers), Mumbai (772 thousand passengers) and New Delhi with 722 thousand passengers.

Process efficiency

While 2020 has been a challenging year, one of the main positive factors has been the strength of our partnerships, Emirates Airlines and flydubai have played a pivotal role in the recovery effort, along with dnata and all the official bodies that make up the aviation community in Dubai.

Retail, service, restaurant and beverage partners in the airport environment demonstrated strength and resilience during the downturn.

As one of the first airports to provide financial support to our partners during 2020, we were able to maintain their businesses and move quickly to reopen the ports with an increase in passenger traffic.

These partnerships have also been strengthened, showing confidence in the future of Dubai International Airport through extensions of contracts with existing companies such as Travelex, new innovations from JCDecaux and agreements with Dubai's leading hotel group, Jumeirah.

In addition, the DHA's ability to rapidly respond to the ever-changing environment and the emirate's needs has seen the establishment of COVID-19 PCR screening facilities at Dubai International Airport for inbound travelers, making tourist movement and population return more efficient.

Air traffic

Dubai International Airport handled 49,603 movements during the last quarter (a decrease of -49.8%) bringing the annual air traffic to 183,993 (a decrease of -51.4%), while the average number of passengers per flight decreased to 188, a decrease of 20.3% annually.


Dubai International Airport handled 571,718 tons of cargo in the last quarter of the year (a decrease of 13.3%) and the annual air freight volume was 1 million 932 thousand and 22 tons (a decrease of 23.2%) during 2020.

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