Dubai International Airport (DXB) expects to see 78 million travellers pass through its gates in 2023 after passenger traffic more than doubled in the past year, its CEO said on Tuesday.

"With DXB forecast to welcome 78 million passengers this year, and Dubai hosting major international events including the Dubai Airshow and COP28, it will be another year of new challenges and opportunities and we are ready for them," said Paul Griffiths.

DXB, a one of the biggest international travel hubs, handled 66 million passengers in 2022, a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of 127%, driven by strong volumes in the final quarter, the airport operator said in a statement.

In Q4, the airport recorded 19,729,155 passengers, up 67% compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, making it the busiest quarter since 2019. December was the busiest month of the year with 7.1 million passengers, the first time since January 2020 that DXB’s monthly traffic hit the 7 million mark.

India was the top destination country in terms of traffic volume for DXB in 2022 as it received 9.8 million passengers.

Saudi Arabia was second with 4.9 million passengers followed by the UK (4.6 million passengers) and Pakistan (3.7 million passengers).

The number of Russians travelling through DXB came in at 1.9 million.  Local airlines Emirates and Fly Dubai have added flights to Russian cities since the Ukraine conflict began early last year. According to travel data company FowrwardKeys, bookings on Russian outbound flights to Dubai doubled week-on-week mid-year.

London was the top destination city by traffic with 3 million passengers, followed by Riyadh (2 million) and Mumbai (1.9 million).

Total flight movements at DXB totalled 96,701 during Q4 bringing the annual flight movements to 343,339, a year-on-year growth of 47%. The average number of passengers per flight reached 204, up 33% year-on-year.

Cargo volumes continued contract with 420,125 tonnes recorded in the fourth quarter, down 31.7% compared to 614,834 tonnes in Q4 of 2021. DXB handled 1,727,815 tonnes of cargo during 2022, a drop of 25.5% resulting from the moving of all major freight operators back to Dubai World Central (DWC) and the return of pax-freighter aircraft back to passenger operations during the year.

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)