Dubai reclaims top spot in October as world's busiest international airport, OAG says

It grabs the title from Amsterdam Schiphol as capacity returns to the Middle East hub

Dubai International Airport is home to Emirates, which has already restored 90 per cent of its network. Reuters
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Dubai International Airport was named the world's busiest for international passengers in October, reclaiming the top spot from Amsterdam's Schiphol, as capacity returns amid an ongoing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The monthly rankings by aviation consultancy OAG were calculated using airlines' international seat capacity and international flight frequency in October, compared to the same month in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic.

"Amsterdam Schiphol's position as the world's busiest international airport was short-lived as Dubai reclaims the top spot this month as capacity through the Middle East hub returns in earnest," OAG said in a report.

Amsterdam moved into second place while Frankfurt and London Heathrow, Europe’s other big airports, were placed third and fourth, respectively, OAG said.

Dubai International Airport is home to Emirates airline, the world's biggest long-haul carrier, which has already restored 90 per cent of its network and is on track to reach 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity by the end of 2021.

The emirate is also hosting the six-month Expo 2020 Dubai world fair, which officially began in October.

The UAE is set to register a boost in passenger traffic after the reopening of important source markets such as India and the UK.

The reopening of economies around the world, the gradual relaxation of pandemic-induced travel curbs and rapid vaccination programmes are driving the rebound in air travel demand.

Apart from Dubai, with 2.7 million seats, three other Middle East airports made it into the top 10. They are Istanbul in fifth place, Doha in seventh position and Antalya in ninth spot, according to OAG.

European hubs dominated the top 10 list, including Charles de Gaulle in Paris (sixth), Adolfo Suarez-Barajas in Madrid (eighth) and Vienna in Austria (10th).

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson retained its dominance in October on the world's top 10 busiest airports list that includes both domestic and international capacity. Chicago O’Hare also managed to stay in second position.

"Half of the top 10 global airports, by seat capacity, are located in the US," OAG said.

"Reflective of the strong growth in the Chinese domestic market this month, there are now three Chinese airports in the top 10, with Istanbul and Delhi making up the final two."

The busiest international airline route globally in October was between Antalya in Turkey and Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in Russia, which was the third busiest in September, according to OAG data.

There was a strong recovery taking place on some key Middle East routes in October, the consultancy said.

Four of the top 10 busiest international airline routes start or end in Dubai, connecting Riyadh, London Heathrow, Bahrain and Jeddah with the UAE.

In Africa, the busiest international routes by region were between Cairo and Jeddah, Cairo and Dubai, and Cairo and Riyadh.

Updated: October 31, 2021, 4:19 PM