By Dermot Davitt www.moodiereport.com
UAE. Dubai International Airport posted a +22.6% surge in passenger traffic year-on-year in February, to 3.64 million, Dubai Airports has reported.
The strong growth in February follows record monthly passenger traffic of over 3.8 million in January, bringing the year-to-date passenger throughput to 7,501,848 – up +19.7% over the corresponding period in 2009, the company added. The strongest passenger growth numbers in February were recorded on routes to and from Western Europe, the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East as the result of a “strong ramp up of capacity” into these regions by airlines.
That spells good news for the airport’s travel retailer Dubai Duty Free, which is understood to be running +22% ahead of sales last year.
Cargo traffic, seen as an indicator of economic confidence, rose by +26.7%. Rising confidence among shippers and the re-stocking of inventories worldwide is influencing freight volumes, said the airport group.
Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said: “We were the fastest growing major international airport in 2009 and the figures so far this year are very encouraging. With economic activity picking up globally, Emirates set to launch a number of exciting new routes and the summer travel season fast-approaching, we expect the robust growth to continue over the coming months.”
Holiday Inn Express opens
In other Dubai Airport news, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Ishraq Gulf Real Estate Holding Co have opened the Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport. The 381-room hotel is the largest Holiday Inn Express in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and the fourth property to open in Dubai. It is located opposite Terminal 3 and adjacent to the Dubai Metro.
The hotel offers power showers and satellite TV in every room, wireless internet access throughout public areas, a 24-hour fully equipped gym, laundry services and complimentary breakfast for all guests. In addition, guests have access to five meeting rooms, underground parking and a complimentary shuttle bus service from the hotel to Dubai International Airport.
Parent group IHG said: “Holiday Inn Express is the world’s largest limited service hotel brand. Since its launch in the Middle East in 2007, Holiday Inn Express has pioneered the limited service concept in the region, offering competitive pricing, quality accommodation for both business and leisure travellers consistent with a trusted international brand.”
It said the hotel was poised to benefit from the 11 million-plus tourists that are forecast to visit the UAE this year.
IHG CEO Andy Cosslett said: “IHG opened its first hotel in the UAE 35 years ago and we have continued to invest in the Emirates and build on this rich heritage to become one of the biggest hotel operators in the country. Today we have 16 existing properties and seven hotels under development. These figures are a measure of our commitment to the growth and development of the UAE’s tourism sector and its position as a leading regional business hub.”
IHG MEA Chief Operating Officer John Bamsey said: “Traditionally, the Gulf markets have been dominated by luxury, upscale hotel brands. However, as markets mature and develop, customers seek out trusted brands. The opening of the Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport, the largest Holiday Inn Express hotel in the EMEA region, further extends our brand portfolio and illustrates our commitment to providing guests with even more choice and convenience in the UAE.”
As the exclusive developer of the Holiday Inn Express brand in the GCC, excluding Saudi Arabia, Ishraq Gulf Real Estate Holding Co will be responsible for the operation and management of the new hotel.