DXB retains title of world’s busiest international airport for 8th consecutive year

DXB retains title of world’s busiest international airport for 8th consecutive year

A total of 29.1m passengers transited through Dubai Airport in 2021. CEO Paul Griffiths explains how figures were achieved

Dubai International (DXB) continues to be the world’s busiest airport by international passenger numbers for the eighth consecutive year after clocking 29.1 million passengers in 2021, and DXB’s annual traffic exceeded forecasts for the year by more than half a million passengers. Here are the key figures at a glance:

  • DXB welcomed 29,110,609 passengers for the full year of 2021, a year-on year-growth of 12.7%
  • Q4 2021 was the busiest quarter since Q1 2020, and the first time since the start of the pandemic that DXB’s quarterly traffic surpassed the 10 million mark
  • The numbers were propelled by a robust growth in the final three months of the year during which DXB recorded 11,794,046 passengers, 77% more than in the previous quarter
  • December was the busiest month of the year with 4.5 million passengers
  • India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB by passenger volume, with passenger traffic for 2021 totalling 4.2m
  • The top destination city was Istanbul with 916,000 passengers
  • The number of flight movements at DXB reached 77,671 during Q4 bringing the annual flight movements to 233,375, a year-on-year growth of 28.1%.
  • Cargo continued its strong performance finishing with 614,834 tonnes of cargo in Q4, taking the annual freight volume in 2021 up by 20% to 2,319,185 tonnes
  • However, the average number of passengers per flight reached 154, down 18.9% year-on-year

See DXB’s top country destinations in 2021 here 

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, described an eventful year which, despite the uncertainties of the global pandemic, contained many milestones that demonstrate several bold steps taken by Dubai and its aviation sector to lead the recovery of global air travel.

Hosting the Dubai Airshow 2021, the world’s first major airshow since the start of the pandemic, was a key achievement in aviation for Dubai.

The return of DXB to 100% operational capacity with the reopening of Terminal 1-Concourse D and Concourse A was another milestone for the airport.

Opening the world’s largest in-house airport laboratory for fast-track processing Covid-19 PCR test samples for Dubai’s visitors enabled safe transit

The airport also welcomed a record number of new airlines connecting Dubai to new destinations and joined the rest of the city in creating a warm welcome for millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai.


Describing DXB’s performance in 2021 as nothing short of impressive, Griffiths said, “Despite unprecedented turmoil affecting millions of people all over the world, we overcame many serious obstacles to the operation of the world’s largest international hub and provided smooth, comfortable and safe travel for millions of people travelling through DXB.

“This incredible performance by all of our staff and stakeholders was achieved in the face of abruptly changing travel regulations and concerns about new waves of infection. Despite these serious challenges to our ongoing success, we managed to exceed our own forecasts and continue to retain our crown as the world’s busiest international airport.”

See DXB’s top city destinations in 2021

When asked about the outlook for 2022, Griffiths was optimistic, with the eagerly anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further easing of travel regulations around the world.

He said: “The outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to  lead the world’s air travel sector on the road to recovery.”

Current forecasts indicate that traffic through DXB could reach 55.1m by the end of 2022, but Griffiths acknowledges that if current trends continue, that figure could be exceeded by a significant margin.


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