Dubai International airport (DXB) has retained its place as the world’s busiest airport for international traffic for the sixth year.

The hub welcomed just under 86.4 million passengers last year, around six million more than its nearest rival London Heathrow.

The figures at DXB were however down 3.1 per cent on 2018, with the airport citing global market conditions, the grounding of B737 Max aircraft (of which Flydubai is an operator), and the 45-day closure of its southern runway in April and May last year.

The airport said that in the fourth quarter of 2019 it welcomed 21.9 million customers, up 1.3 per cent, and added that it twice surpassed the eight-million monthly passengers mark – in July and August.

India was the top destination with 11.9 million passengers, followed by Saudi Arabia with 6.3 million, and the UK in third with 6.2 million.

DXB also said that wait times were down 15 per cent last year, thanks to the airport’s “advanced operations centre which uses real time information from more than 50 systems across the facility to enhance efficiency and service, as well as the new smart gates that help speed customers through passport control”.

Commenting on the news Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports said:

“While customer numbers in 2019 were lower than the preceding year, the impact of the 45-day closure of the runway, the bankruptcy of Jet Airways, as well as the grounding of the Boeing’s 737 Max accounted for an estimated 3.2 million passengers over the course of the year, and indicate underlying growth at DXB.”