Dubai airport passenger traffic could reach pre-Covid levels sooner than expected,

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Air passenger traffic in Dubai could reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024, a year earlier than expected, said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

Karim Sahib | UKTN | Getty Images

Air passenger traffic in Dubai could reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024, a year earlier than expected, said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

“We recorded 13.6 million passengers during this first quarter [at Dubai International Airport]. This causes us to revise our guidance for the year,” he told UKTN’s Dan Murphy on Wednesday, calling it a “hugely encouraging” result.

“Originally we were thinking 2025, but it’s highly likely we’ll be back to pre-Covid levels – maybe as early as Q1 or Q2 of 2024,” he said.

The number of passengers in the first quarter of 2022 is up almost 140% compared to the same period in 2021 and represents an increase of 15.7% compared to the last quarter of 2021, Dubai Airports said in a press release. hurry.

Air traffic plunged during the pandemic, but Dubai International Airport remained the busiest airport for international passengers in 2020 and 2021, according to Airports Council International.

The airport handled 29.1 million passengers in 2021 and 25.9 million in 2020. Griffiths said he expects traffic to reach 58.3 million passengers this year – still a far cry from previous figures. before the pandemic, when the airport saw 86.4 million customers pass through in 2019.

Some of Dubai’s visitors are actually helping to boost our point-to-point traffic to over 100% of pre-Covid levels.

Paul Griffiths

CEO, Dubai Airports

Dubai Airport, which is owned by the city government, operates Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports in the United Arab Emirates.

Travel between Dubai and the rest of the world, or point-to-point traffic, rebounded “incredibly strongly”, Griffiths said.

“Some of Dubai’s visitors are actually helping to boost our point-to-point traffic to over 100% of pre-Covid levels,” he said.

The recovery of the transit market has been slower and stands at around 60% of 2019 levels, according to the press release.

Some markets such as those in Southeast Asia and Australasia closed their borders for a while but are starting to reopen now, he noted.

“So hopefully in May we’ll see some rebounds in the Chinese travel market, further strengthening in Australasia and all the traditional markets that are very good for us for transfer traffic will get back to their old strength,” he said. he declared.

China still maintains its zero Covid policy and has imposed strict restrictions to deal with outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing in recent weeks.

Travel rules

In terms of health and safety requirements for air travel, including testing and mask mandates on planes, Griffiths said they may soon ease further in Dubai.

“We are not far from total relaxation,” he said, noting that vaccinated travelers to Dubai do not need to be tested upon arrival.

“We’re very eager, obviously, to ease the restrictions, but not until it’s safe,” he added.

Separately, the CEO said it was up to the government to decide whether Dubai Airports would be listed on the stock exchange in an initial public offering.

“The Government of Dubai, I’m sure, will make a decision over time. And obviously we will embrace any decision with great enthusiasm,” he said.

When asked if the company was ready for an IPO, he replied, “We’re ready for anything.”