The region’s aviation hub Dubai welcomed more than 23.7 million visitors in 2022.

Middle Eastern airlines recorded a remarkable 157.4 per cent surge in traffic in 2022 compared to 2021, which was far higher than the 64.4 per cent increase registered across the globe, the International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday.

Airlines’ capacity in the Middle East increased 73.8 per cent and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 75.8 per cent. In December, passenger demand in the region climbed 69.8 per cent compared to the same month in 2021.

The region’s aviation hub Dubai welcomed more than 23.7 million visitors in 2022. Of these, 21.8 million arrived via Dubai’s airports, namely Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, representing an increase of 81.3 per cent more passengers. In 2021, 12.05 million travellers chose Dubai airports as their means of arriving in Dubai.

Globally, full year 2022 traffic was at 68.5 per cent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels and in December, total traffic rose 39.7 per cent compared to December 2021 and reached 76.9 per cent of the December 2019 level.

“The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year, despite some governments’ over-reactions to China’s re-opening,” said Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general.

International traffic in 2022 climbed 152.7 per cent versus 2021 and reached 62.2 per cent of 2019 levels as domestic traffic rose 10.9 per cent compared to the prior year. December 2022 international traffic climbed 80.2 per cent over December 2021, reaching 75.1 per cent of the level in December 2019 while domestic traffic was up 2.6 per cent over the year-earlier period and was at 79.9 per cent of December 2019 traffic.

“Let us hope that 2022 becomes known as the year in which governments locked away forever the regulatory shackles that kept their citizens earthbound for so long. It is vital that governments learn the lesson that travel restrictions and border closures have little positive impact in terms of slowing the spread of infectious diseases in our globally interconnected world. However, they have an enormous negative impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, as well as on the global economy that depends on the unfettered movement of people and goods,” said Walsh.


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