Dubai retains title as world's busiest international airport in December

The emirate's airport processed about a million seats more than the next busiest hub, London Heathrow, aviation consultancy OAG says

Dubai recorded a capacity increase of 15 per cent in December from the previous month, adding almost 500,000 seats in December. Reuters
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Dubai International Airport in December retained its position as the world's busiest for international passengers, overtaking major hubs such as London Heathrow, as passenger traffic surged during the peak holiday travel period.

The monthly rankings by aviation consultancy OAG were calculated using airlines' international seat capacity and international flight frequency in December 2021, compared with the same month in 2019 before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dubai held on to the top spot with 3.54 million seats, about one million more than the next busiest airport, London Heathrow, OAG said in its monthly World's Busiest Airports report.

Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Istanbul Airport rounded off the top five busiest international airports, the data showed.

Dubai International's Terminal 3 was expected to serve more than 1.6 million passengers in the second half of December during the month's peak seasonal travel period, operator Dubai Airports said last month.

The emirate's airport operator raised its forecast for annual passenger traffic for 2021 by two million, anticipating that traveller numbers will reach 28.7 million. Dubai Airports is projecting 57 million passengers for 2022.

After the reopening of the final phase of Concourse A at Terminal 3, Dubai International is operating at full capacity after 20 months of reduced operations because of the pandemic. Dubai World Central, the emirate's second airport, will reopen its passenger terminal in May.

Increased passenger traffic has also buoyed airport retail sales. Dubai Duty Free annual sales surged 40 per cent to Dh3.56 billion ($970 million) in 2021.

There were fewer European airports in the top 10 busiest international airports in December, down to six from eight in November. Frankfurt dropped from fifth to the sixth busiest. Dublin dropped out of the top 10, replaced by Miami in 10th place.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson retained its dominance in December in the world's top 10 busiest global airports ranking that takes into account domestic and international capacity. Dubai does not have a domestic air travel market.

Dubai recorded a capacity increase of 15 per cent in December from the previous month, adding almost 500,000 seats in December, and has moved up to the second busiest global airport in December from seventh position in November, OAG said.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, China's Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport rounded off the top five busiest global hubs.

Dubai strengthened its position in December with six of the top 10 busiest international airline routes operating to and from the emirate, OAG said in a separate report.

The busiest international airline route globally for the Dubai airport in December was between Dubai and Riyadh, followed by Cairo-Jeddah and Dubai-London Heathrow.

Dubai-Jeddah, Dubai-Kuwait and Dubai-Karachi were also among the top 10 busiest international airline routes, OAG data showed.

Updated: January 06, 2022, 2:30 PM