Dubai Airports traffic up in first half on new routes

Dubai International Airport

By Muzaffar Rizvi

Dubai Airports on Monday said first-half passenger traffic rose 8.9 per cent to 24.6 million, marking its busiest six-month period in its 50-year history.

Dubai International AirportDubai International, the world’s fourth busiest airport for international passenger traffic, handled a total of 4.07 million passengers in June, up 10.4 per cent from the 3.68 million in same month last year. The average monthly passenger traffic recorded in the first half of 2011 stands at 4.09 million as compared to 3.76 million during the corresponding period in 2010.

“As the numbers clearly suggest, robust passenger traffic growth continues despite high fuel prices and growing economic uncertainty in Europe and the US,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, said in an e-mailed statement to Khaleej Times.

The increased number od passengers meant more planes at the airport. The number of takeoffs and landings rose 6.2 per cent in the first half. The year-to-date daily average passenger throughput at Dubai International reached 135,700, compared with 124,600 recorded during the first six months of 2010.

During the first half of 2011, cargo volumes remained steady with 1.058 million tonnes of freight being processed through the facility compared with 1.055 million tonnes during the same period in 2010. In June, Dubai International handled a total of 183,365 tonnes of cargo an increase of 3.4 per cent compared to 177,285 tonnes in June 2010.

“This is being driven by the addition of new routes and frequencies, more wide-bodied aircraft as well as by the attractiveness of Dubai as a business and tourist destination and an efficient transit point,” he added.

Griffiths said that in the first half of 2011 over 200 new weekly flights were launched to 19 new destinations across Asia, Europe and Africa by different passenger carriers, including Emirates and flydubai. Dubai International currently serves 150 airlines flying to over 220 destinations across six continents.

“First half traffic figures for Dubai Airport clearly demonstrate that, alongside ever-growing demand to fly Emirates, airport passenger figures are continuing their upward trajectory with strong year-on-year performance,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at FBE Aerospace London, told Khaleej Times.

“A quick glance at Emirates profitability, expanding route network and the fact that flydubai has now become the second biggest operator at the airport, Dubai Airport is not just securing vast swathes of international transfer traffic, but it is also demonstrating that there is ample demand, traffic and increasing intra-GCC travel supporting the low cost airline traffic growth,” Ahmad said.

Earlier this month Griffiths said Dubai will spend $7.8 billion on expanding its existing Dubai International Airport to handle rapidly-rising passenger traffic, while at the same time moving ahead with separate plans to complete its mega Al Maktoum International airport. The new programme will boost the airport’s capacity from 60 million to 90 million passengers per year by 2018.

“Our planned $7.8 billion expansion of Dubai International is well-timed to accommodate the expected average annual growth of 7.2 per cent over the next 10 years,” Griffiths said.

Ahmad of FBE Aerospace said there’s a high probability that Dubai Airport could top 50 million passengers in 2011. “Dubai Airport is focussed more on building and sustaining the demand growth it is experiencing and this is complemented by the recent several billion dollar investment by the Dubai Government. Keeping infrastructure ahead of the demand curve is critical — without this, the airport could suffer saturation and operational constraints like other busy two-runway airports like London Heathrow.”

“Dubai Airport has leveraged its geographic location to give it a hug competitive advantage in capturing business from virtually all four corners of the Earth, thanks in large part to the expansion of Emirates. Even taking Emirates out of the equation, the added competition into the airport from airlines in the GCC and also big expanding markets like India means that growth for the future is looking solid and promises to push passenger numbers even higher.”

Ahmad said Dubai Airport can already be counted as one of the busiest international airports. “It doesn’t need to aim for a particular slot — the eventual added capacity coming on-stream thanks to Al Maktoum International Airport will catapult the city’s two airports into the top five and will dominate traffic demand for a long while,” he concluded.