Dubai to handle 2 million air passengers over 'exceptionally busy' holiday season

International airport expects as many as 245,000 passengers daily on average over the eight days starting on December 27

Dubai International Airport retained its position as the world's busiest for international passengers. Photo: Dubai Airports
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Dubai International Airport expects to handle about two million passengers over the busy holiday season, capping off a strong recovery in 2022 and edging closer to pre-coronavirus daily traffic numbers.

As many as 245,000 passengers are expected to pass through the hub, known as DXB, daily between December 27 and January 3, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.

“DXB will remain exceptionally busy over the remainder of the holiday season and well into the New Year,” Dubai Airports said.

“December has been exceptionally busy for DXB due to a combination of factors, including the seasonal influx of visitors, the recently concluded World Cup football event in Doha and the strength of Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.”

The airport retained its position as the world's busiest for international passengers in December, ahead of major hubs such as London's Heathrow and spurred on by the rebound of Emirates airline.

Dubai International Airport had 4.6 million seats in December, an increase of 8 per cent from November and slightly more than a million seats than the next busiest airport, Heathrow, aviation consultancy OAG said in its monthly World's Busiest Airports report.

The airport handled 18.5 million passengers in the third quarter, more than doubling year on year, according to data by Dubai Airports.

This was the first time that quarterly traffic reached pre-pandemic levels since 2020, with the figure higher than the 17.8 million passengers who travelled through the airport in the first quarter of 2020 before the onset of Covid-19.

The airport's average monthly traffic exceeded six million throughout the third quarter.

Safety measures by the emirate's government, cooler weather, a growing list of tourist attractions and people's desire to travel after two years of lockdowns are among other factors making the city an attractive destination for visitors, Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths said in an interview last month.

The recovery at the airport, which serves as the hub for Emirates airline, continued, with strong travel demand registered during the peak summer season as international borders reopened and coronavirus restrictions were eased.

The airport benefitted from smooth operations, compared with some major European airports that were left reeling from delays that caused widespread disruptions as demand increased after the pandemic.

Dubai Airports expects 64.3 million passengers to travel through the airport in 2022, about 3 per cent more than its last annual forecast in August of 62.4 million passengers, after a strong third quarter and expectations of surging volumes in the last three months of the year.

The busy December period prompted Dubai Airports to issue a travel alert urging passengers to plan their trips to and through the airport to beat the holiday rush.

Updated: December 27, 2022, 11:32 AM