Dubai International (DXB) remains the world’s busiest airport for international traffic this year, although capacity has dropped slightly, reflecting a global trend.

The aviation hub, which has consistently outranked its global peers, including London Heathrow, logged 4.2 million seats in February 2023, according to aviation consultancy OAG.

DXB’s capacity for the month is the highest in the world, but it has fallen by 9% compared to the previous month.

The UK’s London Heathrow, DXB’s strong contender, came second in the overall ranking with 3.3 million seats and a 7% decline from the previous month. Istanbul Airport came third, followed by Singapore’s Changi and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

OAG’s latest monthly rankings are based on scheduled airline capacity in February. The consultancy firm also compared the latest data with the equivalent month in 2019, before the start of the global pandemic.

DXB reported on Tuesday that for the whole of last year, it recorded more than 66 million passengers, an increase of 127% from 2021. The airport expects the numbers to increase this year, with a total of 78 million passengers expected in 2023.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the air travel industry continued to recover last year on the back of easing COVID-19 restrictions. International traffic in 2022 rose 152.7% versus 2021 and reached 62.2% of pre-COVID levels.

Significant declines

OAG said that all major airports that landed in its top 10 rankings have seen decreased capacity this month compared to January.

The aviation hubs that have recorded the most significant declines are those in Istanbul, Doha and Bangkok, each registering a 10% drop in numbers.

However, some airports in Asia have seen an improvement in traffic, with Singapore’s Changi, Korea’s Incheon and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airports entering OAG’s top 10 rankings.

Changi moved from the 11th to the fourth position, while Incheon climbed from 45th to 7th and Suvarnabhumi rose from the 46th to the 10th place.

Within the European market, London Heathrow continues to be the busiest hub, followed by Istanbul with 3.2 million seats.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria )