The world’s busiest airport saw almost 30M passengers last year

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s main airport said Tuesday it has retained its top place as the world’s busiest for international travel with around 29 million passengers shuttling through the global gateway last year.

The 2021 passenger figures are encouraging for the tourism-driven economy of Dubai, regarded as a critical link between East and West. The numbers are sign that international travel has picked up somewhat since the coronavirus pandemic spawned unprecedented global lockdowns and border closures in 2020. Last year’s figure represents a 12% increase in traffic at Dubai International Airport compared to 2020, which had recorded nearly 26 million travelers.

Still, even with 29.1 million passengers crisscrossing last year through Dubai International Airport, or DXB, the figure is nowhere near the pre-pandemic milestone of 86.4 million in annual traffic logged by the airport in 2019.

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An Emirates jetliner comes in for landing at Dubai International Airport on Dec. 11, 2019.

Dubai is currently hosting the six-month-long World’s Fair, which was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. Expo 2020, which opened in October and runs until the end of March, has attracted millions of visitors as well as heads of state, royalty and celebrities, helping to further cement Dubai’s reputation as a global destination. It’s unclear, though, what the overall contribution of the Expo has been to Dubai’s economic recovery.

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