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Dubai Airport to reopen main terminal, expects 28m returning passengers

written by Isabella Richards | June 21, 2021

Dubai International Airport (Dubai International Airport)

Dubai International Airport has announced it will reopen its highest capacity terminal and concourse, which was closed during the pandemic, as it prepares for an anticipated significant increase in travel demand.

The airport, like many around the globe, saw a drastic decrease in passenger traffic over the course of the pandemic, which caused the airport to close its Terminal 1 and Concourse D for 15 months from 25 March 2020.

However, the airport is gearing up to reopen in its entirety from 24 June.

Welcoming the reopening of Terminal 1 is an important step in preparing to accommodate the anticipated growth in travel demand in the coming weeks and months, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, said.

“This move signals our confidence that the outlook for the rest of the year and beyond is one of optimism, as well as being a clear indication of Dubai’s intent to lead the aviation industry in its efforts to enable social and economic recovery of the world,” he said.

The reopening will enable an accumulative return of 40 plus international carriers that have been operating at Terminal 2 and 3 during the pandemic.

Terminal 1, linked to Concourse D, was opened in 2016, with both these facilities contributing to an annual capacity of 18 million passengers. Because of its large capacity, Terminal 1 remains paramount to the airport’s success.


Dubai International Airport saw passenger traffic decrease by 70 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019 levels. Despite Emirates flights resuming again last summer, the 25.9 million passenger traffic remains unmatched compared to 86.5 million in 2019.

In an interview with Reuters, chief executive Paul Griffiths believed if the airport is “really, really lucky”, passenger numbers could increase between 24.7 million and 34.3 million this year.

“People think it will trickle back. I don’t believe that. I believe it will be an absolute flood of demand when people get the confidence to travel again,” he said.

“We’re comfortable with that mid-range of about 28 [million].”

Despite the stark statistics from the pandemic, Griffiths proposed an estimate of 90 per cent of the 260 destinations served from Dubai International Airport will be restored.

The transition of reopening Terminal 1 and Concourse D will happen in stages, with the plan of relocation to be finished by the end of June.

Dubai Airport is a significant contributor of the economy, employing around 90,000 people and supports 400,000 jobs. Overall, it contributes over US$26.7 billion to the economy and reflects 27 per cent of Dubai’s GDP.


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