More passengers, but recovering for years

More passengers, but recovering for years

Dubai Today, Monday, the CEO of Dubai International Airport said that Dubai International Airport, the busiest international airport for international travel, handled a 20% increase in passenger traffic in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, indicating cautious optimism in the aviation industry. stricken.

However, a full recovery is still elusive. More than 86 million people were pressed into the airport before the coronavirus hit in 2019. So far this year, only 20.7 million have been welcomed in, as of October. But CEO Paul Griffiths said the figure still represented a sharp turnaround in the fortunes of the important transit hub between East and West hit by the pandemic last year.

“We remain optimistic that the recovery is very strong,” Griffiths told The Associated Press, amid the smell of jet fuel and the noise of planes taking off at the Dubai Airshow, the trade fair that kicks off here on Sunday. “It will take two years, but I hope I’m wrong.”

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The airport saw 6.7 million passengers during the third quarter, with flights up 17% between January and September compared to the same period last year. It’s a welcome change from the steady stream of bad news in 2020, when the airport cut 34% of its staff and grounded a major terminal as the coronavirus closed borders around the world.

“The growth is coming back with a lot of steam,” Griffiths said, noting a 40% increase in bookings last month. The airport is preparing to bounce back for the rest of the year, betting that speeding vaccinations and relaxed travel restrictions will allow Europeans to escape the wintry weather to Dubai’s beaches and tourists to visit the city’s giant World Expo that runs through March.

Griffiths said confidence also grew with the easing of travel restrictions from India and Pakistan, which remained the airport’s largest market this quarter and routinely send large numbers of workers and visitors to the United Arab Emirates. Airlines are expanding their flight schedules as the US recently welcomed the return of vaccinated Europeans and India reopened to quarantine-free tourism on Monday.

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However, there are still indications that the worst ever crisis in the industry may not be over. Behind Griffiths, dozens of Emirates’ iconic fleet of double-decker Airbus A380s, largely centered in the midst of the pandemic, loom at Dubai World Central, the second Gulf airport that ceased use for commercial flights last year.

Emirates Airlines, the largest airline in the Middle East, reported that it received an additional $681 million from the Dubai government earlier this month, bringing the total cash assistance close to $3.8 billion as it posted losses of $1.6 billion in the third quarter.

As demand for long-haul flights grows and more giant planes fill the sky, the airport’s dedicated A380 lounge, Concourse A, will come back to life later this month, Griffiths said.

“We have been driving positive during the pandemic and have not counted on any support from any other entity,” Griffiths added, acknowledging that airlines in the region are struggling with the slow return of long-haul and commercial flights.

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Even as variants of the virus continue to run through vaccinating populations, and the economic recovery remains tilted toward wealthier Western nations with limited access to a vaccine across Africa and Asia, Griffiths described an avalanche of pent-up travel demand after a year and a half of financial pain.

“We’ll see people have the confidence to rush back to travel,” he said. “I don’t think there will be little. It will be a flood.”

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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