Passenger numbers fly high at Dubai airport

Al Maktoum International Airport

By Ivan Gale

Passenger traffic rose at Dubai International Airport while cargo volumes declined slightly last month, Dubai Airports said yesterday.

Al Maktoum International AirportThe company said its gains came even as political unrest caused passenger traffic in the Middle East and North Africa to drop by 47,000 compared with the same period last year.

Dubai Airports also said the fall in freight business was attributable in part to the regional unrest. In addition, freight volumes were unusually high last year, when the region’s businesses were heavily restocking inventories after the global economic downturn.

Last month, 4.2 million passengers passed through Dubai International, up 5.8 per cent from 3.97 million in March last year.

The results for the first quarter were stronger, with 12.3 million passengers using the airport, up 7 per cent from 11.5 million in the same period a year earlier.

“At the current levels we are on track to exceed 50 million passengers this year,” said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. Dubai International, home to Emirates Airline and flydubai, and with services by more than 130 other carriers, is the world’s fourth-busiest airport for both international passenger and cargo traffic.

International air freight volumes declined 3.7 per cent at the airport last month, with volumes falling to 185,921 tonnes compared with 193,054 tonnes in March last year. “The decline is largely attributed to the air cargo traffic boom seen in 2010 as the global economy rebounded from the 2009 downturn, spiking freight volumes as companies across the globe cleared inventories,” Dubai Airports said.

Air cargo volumes were down 2.2 per cent for the first quarter, with the airport handling 507,282 tonnes, compared with 518,636 tonnes in the same period last year.

The passenger traffic increase was boosted by routes to and from the GCC, the Indian subcontinent and the Asia-Pacific region. Destinations in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States also saw gains.