Dubai International airport (DXB) has published its traffic figures for 2020, showing a 70 per cent fall in passenger numbers compared to 2019.

A total of 25.9 million customers passed through the airport last year, compared to over 86 million in 2019, when DXB was ranked the fourth busiest airport worldwide, and the busiest by international traffic.

Nearly 18 million of these passengers travelled in the first quarter of last year, before the onset of Covid-19 led to global travel restrictions and the temporary closure of the airport to passengers in March 2020.

Dubai International Airport closes to passengers

The UAE reopened its doors to international tourists in July, which DXB said “had a positive impact on flight movements and passenger figures increased significantly, through until the end of the year”.

London was the top destination for flights from Dubai in 2020, with 1.15 million customers, followed by Mumbai (772,000 passengers) and Delhi (722,000 passengers).

The airport said that December traffic “exceeded industry expectations” with 2.19 million passengers, and a total of 142 destinations are now being served from Dubai International, to 80 markets and by 56 airlines.

Emirates recently announced plans to vaccinate all of its UAE-based crew, as part of the country’s target to vaccinate over 50 per cent of its population by the end of March.

Emirates to vaccinate UAE-based pilots and crew

“In the past year we have witnessed the most difficult circumstances the travel industry has ever faced,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been felt not only in our sector, but across the entire world. These DXB passenger traffic figures are reflective of that testing environment, but also come with an element of hope and confidence.

“An integral part of recovery for the travel and tourism industry is rebuilding the confidence of travellers, and one way to do this is through a vaccination programme, similar to what is currently being carried out by the UAE government.

“This, along with technology that will allow for seamless and contactless travel, will once encourage more people to get on a plane. In addition, we have transformed our DXB and DWC cargo operations. As an intercontinental hub we are well positioned to support the distribution of vaccines from the countries manufacturing them, to the world.

“Looking forward, we are confident of a steady, but optimistic outlook. We are constantly monitoring future schedules and bookings, working with airlines on their plans to return to DXB and new routes to be introduced. This will allow us to ensure we have sufficient capacity and operational capability available to support as the recovery gains pace.”