Dubai airports received 17.9m passengers in 2020

More than 1.7 million people used airport smart gates, GDRFA says

Aircraft await departure from Dubai International Airport. Dubai's annual passenger traffic through its airports dropped 64.6 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 triggered travel restrictions. Courtesy Dubai Airports
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The number of passengers travelling through Dubai Airports fell last year as the Covid-19 pandemic triggered travel restrictions that hit the global aviation and tourism industry.

The number of passengers travelling through Dubai airports last year reached 17.9 million passengers, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs said in a statement on Saturday. That is a 64.6 per cent drop on the 50.3m passengers recorded in 2019, according to its data.

More than 1.7 million people also used airport smart gates, minimising contact with officials to reduce the spread of the virus, it added.

Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of GDRFA Dubai, said Dubai airports recorded an increase in passenger numbers since the emirate reopened its borders to international air travel in July.

Dubai International Airport was the world’s busiest international travel hub before the Covid-19 crisis.

The emirate opened its doors to international visitors on July 7, more than three months after the UAE’s airspace was closed as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Dubai, a regional tourism and business hub, welcomed 16.73 million travellers last year to its beaches, luxury hotels and shopping malls, with the sector contributing 11.5 per cent to the emirate’s gross domestic product.

The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 brought the global aviation industry's decade of sustained profitability to a grinding halt. The unprecedented crisis unleashed havoc on air travel, leaving airlines, plane makers, lessors and suppliers in a deep rut.