Once again, Dubai International Airport (DXB) topped the Airport Connectivity Rankings for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. As the Airports Council International Asia-Pacific & Middle East (ACI APAC & MID) 2022 Rankings show, DXB maintains its leading role as a global hub for air travel.
Holding the World’s Number One Spot
Dubai Airports, the entity responsible for both of Dubai’s airports—DXB and DWC, has been instrumental in maintaining the city’s standing as a world leader in aviation. In 2022 alone, DXB welcomed 66 million passengers. This accomplishment marks the ninth consecutive year that DXB has retained its position as the world’s number-one airport for international passenger traffic.
The Balancing Act by Dubai Airports
Dubai Airports doesn’t just focus on growth; it aims to create a balanced ecosystem that benefits everyone involved. The airport ensures that all stakeholders—from airlines and service providers to passengers—enjoy a safe, secure, and optimal experience. This inclusive approach contributes to the airport’s operational resilience, customer satisfaction, and sustainability.
Key Highlights from the ACI APAC & MID Report
The recent Airport Connectivity Report revealed some eye-opening statistics:
- The Middle East saw a +26% growth in total connectivity in 2022 compared to 2019.
- Direct connectivity to destinations in North America, Asia-Pacific, and Africa had the strongest recovery post-Covid-19.
- Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) have been pivotal in driving this growth.
- In contrast, the Asia-Pacific region experienced a decline in air connectivity by -38% over the same period.
DBX: Bolstering Global Trade
Paul Griffiths, the CEO of Dubai Airports, stated, “I’m incredibly proud to see DXB at the top of the Airport Connectivity Index for Asia Pacific and the Middle East. This achievement is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team and our service partners working across DXB, and it reaffirms our commitment to providing seamless connections for our guests worldwide. We’ll continue to elevate the travel experience and connect people, cultures, and opportunities like never before.”
Stefano Baronci, Director General of ACI APAC & MID, congratulated DXB on its top ranking. “This reaffirms Dubai Airport’s commitment to providing top-quality air connectivity, both direct and indirect, connecting people and places across the world. Dubai Airport has consolidated its leading position in this ranking by improving its connectivity post-pandemic, with a growth of 17% over 2019. Dubai Airport’s commitment to enhancing connectivity bolsters the region’s economy and global trade.”
In-Depth Look at Asia-Pacific and Middle East Air Connectivity
ACI APAC & MID Air Connectivity Rankings 2022
While DXB leads the rankings for airport connectivity, it’s important to note the contrasting fortunes of air connectivity in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. According to the Airport Connectivity Report developed by ACI APAC & MID and PwC, total air connectivity in the Middle East surged with a +26% growth in 2022 compared to 2019. This growth was primarily driven by Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) and robust connectivity to North America, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.
On the flip side, the Asia-Pacific region recorded a drop of -38% in total connectivity in 2022 compared to 2019 levels. Several factors, such as extended travel restrictions due to COVID-19, geopolitical tensions, and economic downturns, have been the culprits behind this decline. However, preliminary data for 2023 suggests a positive trajectory for the region, signaling potential recovery.
The Key Players in Connectivity Rankings
Dubai International Airport (DXB) retained its No. 1 ranking in 2022 for total connectivity across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. Doha Hamad Airport closely follows at No. 2, with Tokyo Haneda Airport rounding off the top three. Preliminary rankings for 2023 show DXB and Incheon Airport leading in direct connectivity for the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, respectively.
Key Observations and Factors Affecting Connectivity
- Impact of Policies: Middle-sized airports like King Khalid International Airport (Riyadh) and Hamad International Airport (DOH) have shown strong recoveries due to favorable policies.
- Cost of Travel: A recent study reveals that the cost of travel has surged by up to 50%, negatively impacting the recovery of the aviation industry.
- Economic Contributions: In Asia-Pacific, aviation contributed $1 trillion (3.3% of GDP) and employed 56 million people. In the Middle East, it generated $260 billion (9.5% of GDP) and employed 4.6 million.
- Future Outlook: Macroeconomic factors and a rising middle class in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East indicate a robust long-term outlook for air connectivity growth between 2030-2040.
Recommendations for Improved Connectivity
To bolster air connectivity and passenger experience, the report recommends:
- Liberalizing traffic rights for enhanced connectivity and affordability.
- Increasing airlines’ seat capacity and developing routes with reasonable pricing policies.
- Modernizing slot allocation systems for more competition.
- Investing in infrastructure and passenger-friendly amenities.
- Easing visa restrictions for smoother international travel.
- Implementing actions to reduce CO2 emissions towards a net-zero goal.
ACI Study: A Vital Tool for Policymakers
Mr. Stefano Baronci, the Director General of ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East, highlighted the significance of the study. “This study provides an invaluable tool to the industry and policymakers. They can adopt the use of air connectivity indicators to appraise the performance and sustainable development of the aviation industry and its economic and social impact on countries. In addition, it also shows how to prioritize positive outcomes for consumers rather than simply focusing on the price-determination function for the benefit of all aviation stakeholders and the traveling public. The next step will be for ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East to work closely with each government to promote aviation market liberalization, visa simplification, investment in infrastructure development with a focus on the environment, and innovation of services.”
Why This Ranking Matters?
Developed in partnership with PwC, the Airport Connectivity Report isn’t just about the number of routes. It evaluates the quality of these connections based on destination choice, service frequency, and price. All of these factors contribute to the passenger experience. DXB connects to over 255 destinations in 104 countries and hosts over 90 international airlines.