Dubai passenger traffic grows 5.2% despite global turmoil

Al Maktoum International Airport

By Derek Baldwin

February passenger numbers topped 3.83 million, an increase of 5.2 per cent compared to 3.64 million recorded during the same month in 2010

Al Maktoum International AirportDubai International Airport — the fourth busiest in the world — shows no signs of waning passenger traffic in spite of regional turmoil that has disrupted air travel.

Numbers released yesterday show Dubai International’s passenger traffic increased 5.2 per cent year-on-year in February to 3.83 million, up from 3.64 million in the same month the year before.

The upward trend continues after Dubai International recorded 15.5 per cent passenger growth in 2010, ranking it fourth globally when it handled 46.3 million passengers, according to Airports Council International.

Dubai now ranks slightly behind the world’s top three international airports: London, Paris and Hong Kong.

Getting stronger

“Dubai International continues to achieve consistent growth even during a period of global turbulence which is affecting the travel plans of millions of people. We are pleased that Dubai is able to provide a level of consistent service during this time of uncertainty,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

In an interview yesterday, Griffiths told Gulf News that “Dubai’s strength as the world’s aviation hub gets stronger each month.”

After doubling in the last six years, Dubai International now services 220 destinations as a tourist, business and transit hub.

Griffiths said he expects Dubai’s major presence in the international aviation industry to continue to flourish thanks in large part to Emirates airline and low-cost carrier flydubai as well as foreign carriers.

“I think we will continue to see very strong growth over the next few years. People are seeing Dubai as a global hub for trade and tourism and also as a transit hub,” Griffiths said.

Numbers continue to climb, he said, given that “we’ve been able to improve the quality as well as growth.” In February, Dubai International saw its aircraft movements total 24,646, a 7.2 per cent increase from 22,982 in the same month last year.

And while passenger numbers increased overall in February, unrest in much of the Middle East did see passenger numbers from the region fall off.

Dubai International said in a statement yesterday that passenger totals “on Middle Eastern routes dropped 33,036 while a decline of 28,395 passengers was recorded on African routes as traffic was affected by political unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain.”

Freight traffic declined by nine per cent in February to 156,259 tonnes, down from 171,707 tonnes for the same month the year before.

The airport attributed the decline to Chinese New Year holidays and some flight disruptions in the Middle East.