Although 2019 saw a fall in the number of travellers going through Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates for the first time in two decades, the airport is still the busiest in the world for international passengers, according to authorities.
There was a 3.1% fall in traffic at the airport to 86.4 million passengers in 2019, which was down from the 2018 figure of 89.15 million, according to Dubai Airports.
It marked the first time that the number of passengers at Dubai International Airport fell since at least the year 2000, figures from government agency Dubai Statistics Center have revealed.
The airport still kept its position as the world’s top airport serving international passengers – it beat the UK’s Heathrow Airport, which was in second place, by six million passengers.
The decline of passenger numbers has been attributed to a number of challenges that the airport has faced, including the south runway being closed for 45 days, the Boeing 737 MAX being grounded all over the world, and international market conditions.
One of the Boeing 737 MAX’s biggest customers was low-cost carrier flydubai, but the aircraft has been grounded since March 2019 after 346 people were killed in two air crashes, resulting in intense scrutiny of the safety practices of the US manufacturer.
The largest number of passengers making use of Dubai Airport came from India, with a total of 1.9 million.
The second largest was Saudi Arabia with 6.3 million, just beating the 6.2 million passengers coming from the UK.
The airport also handled fewer flights last year, with a fall of 8.6% to 373,261, according to Dubai Airports.
Passenger arrivals rose by 5.1% in comparison to 2018, reaching a record-breaking 16.73 million, but even that figure fell short of the 20 million passengers that authorities are still hoping can be reached this year.
The city state has struggled with an economic slowdown over the course of the last few years led by its vital tourism and real estate sectors.
There was a 1.94% slow in growth in 2018, which rebounded to 2.1% in 2019, government figures demonstrate.
Dubai is hoping that the slowing economy will be lifted by Expo 2020, with the international trade fair opening later in the year for a six-month run.
This is the sixth time in a row that Dubai International Airport has been given the title of the busiest airport for international travel in the world.
Anyone who travels in or out of the UAE via Dubai International Airport or any other airport should take out a travel insurance policy before they set out on their journey.
Travel insurance is an important precaution for travellers to take because it offers financial protection from the costly consequences of unexpected events that can happen during travel.
These events can include annoyances such as flights being delayed or cancelled or more serious incidents such as luggage containing valuables being lost or stolen or people being taken ill while away from their home country.