Dubai International Airport (DXB) retained the title of the world's busiest international hub for passengers in 2022 for the ninth year in a row, as long-haul travel demand surged, rankings by the Airports Council International (ACI) show.
London, Amsterdam, Paris and Istanbul followed Dubai as the top-five busiest hubs by international air traffic, the trade association for airports — representing nearly 2,000 airports worldwide — said on Wednesday.
DXB, which does not have a domestic market, more than doubled passenger traffic on the year to 66.1 million last year.
“While we continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery, the latest rankings represent an important milestone in reaching pre-pandemic levels,” ACI World's director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.
“The reopening of China, the second-largest aviation market after the US, is now expected to bring an overall gain, both domestically and for international travel.”
State-owned operator Dubai Airports projects the number of passengers that will pass through the international hub by the end of this year will reach 78 million, as the UAE prepares to host major international events such as the Dubai Airshow and the Cop28 climate summit.
A full recovery to pre-pandemic levels on a monthly basis could come by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2024, if monthly passenger figures reach 7.5 million, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, told The National in February.
Global airlines and airports, emerging from the two-year Covid-19 pandemic that shattered air travel demand, are now facing steep jet fuel bills and mounting pressure to reduce their carbon footprintas they ramp up operations to meet surging travel demand.
Preliminary figures by ACI indicate that with the return of international travel, 2022 global passenger traffic reached close to 7 billion, an increase of 53.5 per cent from 2021, and recovered to 73.8 per cent of 2019 levels.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport once again topped the rankings by overall passenger traffic last year, returning to the list with a 23.8 per cent year-on-year increase to 93.7 million travellers, ACI data showed.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport followed Atlanta International Airport and held their positions from 2021.
Of the top 10 airports globally, five are in the US, ACI data showed. The strong performance by US airports was due to a healthy recovery in domestic travel. All five airports in the country have significant domestic passenger traffic shares of between 75 per cent and 95 per cent, ACI said.
Dubai ranked fifth in the list of the world's top 10 busiest airports.
London Heathrow ranked eighth and recorded the biggest jump in the top-10 list. The airport improved its ranking from 54th position as borders reopened in March 2022 after two years of pandemic-induced closures.
Delhi International Airport featured in the top-10 list for the first time, jumping from 13th position in 2021 and 17th in 2019, boosted by India's fast-growing travel market and aviation ambitions.
The rankings were based on the preliminary compilation of 2022 global data from airports around the world and take into account both their domestic and international markets.