Dubai International retains number one rank as world's busiest hub for international passengers

The airport handled 86.4 million passengers in 2019 to retain its position for the sixth consecutive year

Passengers are seen in the duty free area in departure hall at terminal three of Dubai Airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 26, 2018. Picture taken December 26, 2018. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed
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Dubai International Airport handled 86.4 million passengers in 2019, retaining its position as the world's busiest hub for international passengers for the sixth consecutive year, despite a 3.1 per cent dip from 2018.

The decrease was due to a 45-day closure of the airport's southern runway for repairs, the bankruptcy of India's Jet Airways and the global grounding of Boeing's 737 Max, according to the operator Dubai Airports on Wednesday.

These factors collectively cost the airport an estimated 3.2 million fewer passengers over the course of the year, said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports.

In November, Mr Griffiths told The National the passenger tally at Dubai International last year would be approximately on par with 2018's traffic of 89.1 million, clipped by weaker global air travel demand and operational challenges, but remain the world's busiest international hub.

Dubai International is home to Flydubai, the UAE's sole operator of the 737 Max, which has grounded 14 of the single-aisle jets since March. Dubai is also a popular destination for Indian airlines and a major transit hub for travelers from India.

The number of aircraft landings and take-offs at the airport fell 8.6 per cent during the year to 373,261 flights, while the average number of passengers per flight increased 5.8 per cent to 239.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, passenger traffic at Dubai International grew 1.3 per cent to 21.9 million. On average, the airport handled 7.2 million passengers per month during the year. It posted a 4.5 per cent drop in flight movements to 97,379 movements during the fourth quarter.

Cargo volumes also dropped seven per cent to 659,167 tonnes of cargo in the fourth quarter while the annual airfreight volume fell 4.8 per cent to 2,514,918 tonnes during 2019.

India remained the top destination country for Dubai International by passenger numbers, with traffic reaching 11.9 million in 2019, followed by Saudi Arabia with 6.3 million passengers, and the UK finishing a close third with 6.2 million. The top three cities were London with 3.6 million passengers, Mumbai at 2.3 million and Riyadh with 2.2 million.

The airport handled 3.6 million passengers from China and 3.2 million from the US.

The UAE has suspended all flights to and from mainland China, except for Beijing, starting from February 5 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The epidemic which has disrupted supply chains, trade and transportation has led global airlines to halt services and restrict travel to and from the world's biggest economy.


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