Passengers are back on flights as Dubai International Airport is named busiest in May

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The Gulf nation has emerged as a top destination for rich Russian emigres fleeing the impact of Western sanctions.
  • The airport kicked out London Heathrow from the top spot

  • Heavy passenger rush evidence that people confident to resume normal life

We may not yet have returned to the life before the onset of the Covid pandemic early last year. But there is more and more evidence that people are finding enough confidence to restart the rhythm of a life that defined their daily schedule.

In May Dubai International Airport (DXB) was so busy that it has earned for itself the title of being the world’s busiest international airport in May, as travelers gradually return to the skies. The airport’s scheduled capacity was 1,895,866 in May, according to aviation intelligence firm OAG, despite many of its source markets being closed to international travelers.

It kicked out London Heathrow from the top spot, with the UK airport plummeting to seventh place at capacity of 747,420. Two other regional airports dominated the list, with Istanbul Ataturk coming in second at around 1.3 million capacity, followed by Doha International Airport at 1.24 million.

The rankings are based on scheduled capacity compared to the same month in 2019, pre-pandemic. Four Middle East air routes were the busiest in May, according to OAG data, three of which connect Cairo to Jeddah, Riyadh and Dubai. Within Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah-Riyadh route was one of the busiest in May with 547,936 capacity.