Dubai’s booming aviation sector is being driven by its strong ties with India, an expansive Emirates network, and synergistic growth opportunities. Strategically located between the East and the West, Dubai has positioned itself as an international travel hub, thanks to its world-leading aviation infrastructure. Currently, Dubai is the fourth most visited city in the world, with Dubai International Airport (DXB) being the busiest airport outside of the USA.
DXB serves 78 international airlines and operates flights to over 245 airports in 238 cities across 103 countries. Emirates, Dubai’s flagship airline, carried over 15 million passengers in 2020, making it the largest international airline that year. With a fleet of 262 aircraft, Emirates serves 152 destinations. The airline was ranked 4th in the 2023 ‘Skytrax World Airline’ awards.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, Dubai International Airport has shown resilience, with its passenger capacity reaching 7.3 million passengers in March 2023, a number close to pre-pandemic levels. The aviation sector plays a crucial role in connecting Dubai with the rest of the world and facilitating the influx of tourists and visitors, contributing tremendously to the city’s success, according to Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.
India is a key market for Dubai, with the highest number of direct flights to and from the country. Dubai currently offers direct flights to 22 cities in India, and the recent introduction of Emirates premium economy on its India routes has enhanced the travel experience. Air India has also expanded its Dubai capacity, operating 10 flights a day between Delhi and Dubai and six flights per day for the Mumbai-Dubai route.
The popularity of Dubai as a tourist destination for Indians is evident, with over 80 non-stop daily flights between Dubai and India. The number of Indian airports offering non-stop flights to Dubai has reached 22, and this figure is expected to rise in the coming years. Emirates has introduced premium economy on flights to India, providing passengers flying to and from Mumbai and Bengaluru with enhanced comfort. Dubai saw approximately 1.5 million tourists in January 2023, with India contributing the largest portion.
There are several factors driving the significant growth in the number of passengers flying between India and Dubai. The strong economic growth in both India and the UAE has led to increased bilateral trade and investment, driving demand for air travel. Visa liberalization has made it easier for Indians to obtain visas for travel and work, making travel between the two countries more convenient. The presence of low-cost airlines has also made air travel more affordable for people flying between India and Dubai. Additionally, the availability of more direct flights has made it faster and easier to travel between the two countries. Dubai’s appeal as a tourist destination, offering shopping, dining, and entertainment options, is another significant factor. Furthermore, many Indians have family members living in Dubai, creating a constant demand for air travel between the two countries.
Emirates has a longstanding presence in the Indian market, serving nine destinations across the country. India is one of the top five markets for Emirates in terms of volume and value, with over 5.5 million passengers flown in 2021. Emirates’ operations in India have not only generated substantial revenue but also contributed to the country’s economy, job creation, and foreign exchange earnings.
The future of the Indian aviation market looks promising, with a large and young population and significant investments in aviation infrastructure by the Indian government. As the Indian market provides Emirates with a gateway to other markets in the region, the airline remains committed to its Indian operations and expects continued growth in the years to come.
The close ties between India and Dubai, the extensive Emirates network, and the availability of growth opportunities are fueling Dubai’s thriving aviation sector. With its strategic location, Dubai has become a global travel hub, attracting millions of tourists and serving as a major transit point for international travel. The strong demand for flights between India and Dubai, driven by economic growth, visa liberalization, low-cost airlines, and direct flight connections, further highlights the significance of this market for both Dubai and Emirates. The future looks promising, with continued growth expected in the Indian aviation market, propelled by factors such as a young population and increased investments in infrastructure.