Dubai Airport passenger arrivals to exceed pre-pandemic figures in 2023

Annual Passenger Traffic at Dubai International – 2023

The annual passenger traffic at Dubai International (DXB) is forecasted to reach 86.8 million in 2023 according to Dubai Airports. The projection is based on strong growth throughout the first three quarters of 2023 and on the basis of arrivals forecasted in the fourth quarter. The number surpasses 2019 annual passenger traffic and indicates a strong momentum of arrivals as the city remains the most searched travel destination globally

DXB recorded an average monthly traffic of 7.6 million indicating that the air travel numbers reached pre-pandemic levels through the third quarter. Furthermore, in the third quarter, Dubai recorded 22.9 million passengers which is also the highest quarterly traffic since 2019. In terms of year-to-date traffic for the first nine months, DXB welcomed 64.5 million passengers with a growth of 39.3% compared to the same period in 2022. 

Top Destinations – India, Saudi Arabia and the UK 

In terms of Dubai airport international numbers of arrivals, India was DXB’s top destination with 8.9 million passengers in the first three quarters of 2023. Saudi Arabia (4.8 million) and the UK (4.4 million) passengers were second and third on the list. The top three were followed by Pakistan (3.1 million), the USA (2.7 million) and Russia (1.8 million) passengers. In terms of top cities, the top four cities were London (2.7 million), Riyadh (1.9 million), Mumbai (1.8 million) and Jeddah (1.7 million) respectively. 

International Flight Movements

During the third quarter, the flight movements reached 106,000 with a growth of 5.1%. Overall,  DXB handled a total of 308,000 during the first nine months of 2023 with a growth of 25.2% as compared to the same period last year.  This has ensured that annual passenger traffic at Dubai International continues to grow in 2023.

Dubai Tourism Future Outlook

The annual passenger traffic at Dubai International is anticipated to continue growing in Q4-2023 and 2024. For the same reason, Dubai Airports is expanding infrastructure capacity and enhancing operational efficiency. As a result, DXB’s current capacity is set to be increased from 100 million passengers annually to 120 million. Emirates Airlines and FlyDubai, the two carriers of Dubai are set to receive 15 more A350-900 aircrafts as a deal was signed with Airbus at Dubai Air Show. 

It is worth noting that Dubai is currently ranked no 1 among the top 10 cities globally for highest international tourist spending in 2022 generating nearly US$ 30 billion in revenues. Earlier this year, Dubai surpassed Lisbon as a top destination for digital nomads while the emirate remains ranked among the wealthiest cities globally with 67,900 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in 2022. 

Furthermore, Dubai Economic Agenda D33 aims to increase the size of Dubai’s economy by twice its current value reaching total economic targets of AED 32 trillion over a period of next 10 years. In the first half of 2023, Dubai GDP grew by 3.2% with the non-oil sector contributing 71% towards the economic growth. The transportation sector recorded a growth of 10.5% in H1 2023 compared to previous year generating AED 31.4 billion in added value and contributing 42.8% towards the first half growth. Likewise, the hotel and food services sector reported a 9.2% growth rate in H1 2023. It added a value of AED 7.9 billion, contributing 3.5% to the GDP and 9.5% to overall growth. With the growth in Dubai economy and tourism, the emirate has renewed its position as a leading travel destination globally that has recovered fastest compared to other destinations globally.

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Author: Waqas Siddiqui
As a research consultant, I am passionate about supporting businesses in successfully expanding in the UAE and Gulf region. I can be reached at for research inquiries.