Dubai International Airport (DXB) has reported a 40.9% slump in first-half passenger volumes, though it anticipates ‘robust growth’ in the second half as travel curbs are relaxed.

The airport handled passenger traffic of 10.6 million in the first six months of 2021, with 4.9 million recorded in the second quarter.

During the first half of the year, DXB reported 99,392 flight movements, which is a marginal rise of 0.9% from the prior year.

Hit by the pandemic, the airport had partially suspended operations last year between 25 March and 7 July.

However, DXB’s cargo recovered well, with cargo volumes nearing 2019 levels in the second quarter.

DXB managed 571,568t of freight in the second quarter. This took first-half volumes to 1.1 million tonnes, which is a 27.7% surge from a year ago.

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Currently, the airport serves 68% of the destinations in 94% of the countries on 70% of the airlines compared to before the pandemic.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said: “In anticipation of the robust recovery of global air travel, we started the second half on a high note by re-opening Terminal 1 and Concourse D – the home terminal for our 60 international carriers, after 15 months of hibernation to accommodate the seasonal rush of travellers over the summer holidays.

“This was essential to facilitate the continued expansion of the route networks of our home base carriers Emirates and flydubai, whose joint network spans 168 destinations and growing.”

Griffiths stated that DXP will benefit from the UK’s decision to move the UAE to the ‘Amber list’ and the UAE Government’s decision to conditionally lift curbs for travellers arriving from India, Nigeria and Uganda.

DXB said that India continued to be its top destination country by traffic volume in the first six months of 2021, with more than 1.9 million passengers.

Pakistan was the second with 700,074 passengers and Russia (406,209 pax) and Egypt (401,361 pax) followed. Other notable destination countries included Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Griffiths further added: “We have already witnessed some of our busiest weekends of the year in July, and with major international events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and Dubai Airshow 2021 lined up for the months ahead, the outlook for 2021 in terms of passenger numbers looks very promising.”

According to Airports Council International (ACI) new data, DXB remains the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.