DXB airport retains top position even as traffic dips due to runway closure

Airport remains the world's busiest for international passengers

Dubai airport with a view of the city center | usage worldwide Photo by: Jürgen Effner/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
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Dubai International Airport (DXB) maintained its position as the world's biggest international airport by traffic volume during the first half of 2019, despite a 5.6 per cent decline in passenger numbers as flights were redeployed during a runway closure.

The airport welcomed 41.3 million passengers during the first six months, even though many flights were reallocated to Dubai World Central (DWC) between April 16 and May 30 as DXB's southern runway underwent a complete refurbishment. The 45-day closure meant the number of flights into DXB dropped 11.6 per cent to 178,383, while cargo volumes fell 18.3 per cent to about 1.04 million tonnes.

"A significant portion of the cargo traffic at DXB is belly-hold which was impacted by the southern runway rehabilitation programme," Dubai Airports said in a statement.

Cargo volumes globally have also been impacted by trade tensions between the US and China, with the International Air Transport Association reporting last week that Middle East carriers reported a 7 per cent year-on-year decline in freight volumes in June.

India was the top destination market for passengers from DXB during the first half (5.7 million travellers), followed by Saudi Arabia (3.1 million) and the United Kingdom (2.8 million).

The fall in traffic at DXB was partially offset by a spike in traffic at DWC, where many flights were redirected during the runway closure at DXB.

Late last month, Dubai Airports reported that passenger traffic at DWC more than doubled year-on-year during the first six months of 2019 to 1.2 million, compared to 517,813 in the first half of 2018. Some three quarters (900,000) of the passengers who used DWC during the first half passed through during DXB's 45-day runway closure period.

Dubai International remains the world's busiest for international passenger transport, ahead of London Heathrow (which served 38.8 million passengers in the first half) and Hong Kong International (37.8 million).