Dubai airport passengers up 5.8 pct, unrest slows traffic


By Martina Fuchs

Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport rose by 5.8 percent year-on-year in March, Dubai Airports said on Monday, but traffic on Middle Eastern and African routes dropped due to regional unrest.

DWCIn March, 4.2 million passengers passed through the world’s fourth busiest airport for international passenger traffic, Dubai Airports said in a statement.

The number was up 5.8 percent compared to 3.97 million during the same period last year, it said.

“Passenger traffic growth continues to be robust. At the current levels we are on track to exceed 50 million passengers this year,” said Chief Executive Paul Griffiths.

The company also said 12.3 million passengers passed through the airport in the first quarter, up 7 percent from 11.5 million in the first three months of 2010.

Passenger numbers on Middle Eastern routes dropped 23,240, while African routes saw a decline of 24,402 passengers as traffic was affected by political unrest in these regions, Dubai Airports said.

Turmoil across the Arab world has toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and challenged autocratic regimes in Libya as well as nearby Bahrain and Oman, discouraging travellers.

Dubai, known for opulent hotels and artificial palm-shaped islands, has so far escaped the regional unrest, which started in December.

International freight volumes handled in March dropped by 3.7 percent.

The opening of the Al Maktoum airport, estimated to cost around $34 billion, to passengers had been already delayed to the last quarter of 2011 from March.

Dubai’s second airport, billed as the world’s largest when it becomes fully operational, should have an expected passenger capacity of up to 160 million people a year.