Dubai International Airport (DXB) marked a significant milestone in its post-pandemic recovery after recording passenger traffic above 2019 levels in the first half (H1) of 2023. 

The busiest international hub in the world saw 41.6 million passengers pass through in H1 2023, 300,000 more than the 41.3m arrivals in H1 2019.

The 2023 figure represents a 49.1% increase compared to the 27.9 million passengers recorded in H1 2022. 

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said he highlighted the “dedicated team” at Dubai International as he celebrated the traffic results: “It’s been a rewarding H1 for Dubai International and amid increasing guest numbers, we take great pride in knowing we are continuously delivering with operational excellence and providing an exemplary guest experience.” 

The higher numbers can also partially be attributed to an increase in flight movements, with 201,800 in H1 2023, 13% higher than the same period in 2019. 

Of the 104 countries connected to the airport, India was responsible for the most traffic in the H1 2023 period, with 6 million passengers travelling to the country, while London was the top city thanks to the 1.7 million passengers who flew to the English capital through Dubai. 

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In response to the high traffic numbers for H1, the airport has also adjusted its expectations for the rest of the year, Griffiths said: “We started the second half with strong demand in July and with the ongoing seasonal peak coinciding with the reopening of schools in August, we’re preparing for an exceptionally busy rest of the year. 

“We’ve readjusted our forecast for the year from 83.6m guests to 85m, just 1.6% shy of DXB’s annual traffic in 2019.” 

The upward trend follows the same success seen in 2022, when DXB recorded 66 million passengers, a 127% increase from 2021. 

However, despite the surge in passenger numbers, Dubai International has seen a slight dip in its cargo volumes, with 853,500t managed in H1 despite a 16.1% year-on-year increase in Q2 2023. 

Strong numbers for an international hub echo the takeaway from Sydney Airport’s recently released traffic report which saw international recovery overtake domestic recovery at the airport for the first time since pandemic restrictions eased.