Dubai International airport, the world's busiest hub, raised its outlook for the year as the number of passengers it served in the first half of 2023 exceeded levels recorded in 2019 before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dubai Airports said it served 41.6 million guests in the first half of 2023, a 49 per cent increase on the 27.9 million guests recorded in the same period in 2022, fuelled by a 43 per cent surge in second-quarter passenger traffic.
May was the busiest month during the second quarter with 6.9 million passengers, Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.
“It’s been a rewarding first half for Dubai International and amid increasing guest numbers, we take great pride in knowing we are continuously delivering with operational excellence and providing an exemplary guest experience,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports.
Dubai International handled a total of 201,800 flights in the first half, a 30 per cent increase from the same period in 2022 and 13 per cent higher, compared to the first half of 2019.
The average number of guests per flight during the first half of this year reached 214 while load factor ― a measure of how well airlines can fill available seats ― was 77 per cent.
India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB in the first half of this year by passenger volume, with six million passengers, followed by Saudi Arabia with 3.1 million and the UK with 2.8 million.
Meanwhile, air cargo volumes at DXB in the second quarter surged by 16.1 per cent year on year to reach 453,500 tonnes, bringing the total freight volume for the first half of the year to 853,500 tonnes.
DXB also raised its full-year 2023 passenger forecast to 85 million from 83.6 million and said it expects “record-breaking” numbers during the winter season.
“We started the second half with strong demand in July, and with the ongoing seasonal peak coinciding with the reopening of schools in August, we’re preparing for an exceptionally busy rest of the year,” Mr Griffiths said.
China is expected to lead the recovery in passenger traffic from Asia, he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.
The number of the international visitors to Dubai exceeded the pre-pandemic level in the first half of this year as the emirate's hospitality and tourism sector posted a record performance.
The emirate said there were 8.55 million international visitors in the January-to-June period this year, the best first-half performance yet, exceeding the pre-pandemic figure of 8.36 million tourists in the first half of 2019.
Dubai is nearing a decision on the expansion of its second hub Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai World Central) amid a boom in air travel demand following the pandemic, aviation industry officials said during an event in June.
The emirate is progressing with an earlier plan set out in 2014 for a $33 billion expansion of DWC in phases. That plan had called for building the airport to become one of the world’s biggest with an annual capacity of more than 250 million passengers once completed.
Travel demand has continued to rise rapidly despite higher air fares, owing to constrained capacity and the desire by hundreds of millions to fly after pandemic lockdowns.
Global passenger traffic in June reached 94 per cent of pre-Covid levels, as the summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere got off to a strong start, according to the International Air Transport Association.
International traffic climbed 33.7 per cent compared to June 2022 with all markets recording robust growth, Iata said. International travel demand reached 88.2 per cent of June 2019 levels. In the first half of 2023, international traffic was up 58.6 per cent from the six-month period in 2022.
Middle Eastern airlines’ June traffic climbed 29.2 per cent compared to last year, while capacity rose 25.9 per cent. Load factor improved by two percentage points to 79.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, global air cargo demand in June contracted at its slowest rate in 16 months since February 2022.