Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), announced that the UAE's airports surpassed 134 million passenger mark in 2023 and are projected to reach 140 million by 2024.

He attributed this achievement to the robustness and competitiveness of the UAE aviation sector, which has earned considerable international confidence.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Suwaidi highlighted that UAE airports recorded approximately 38 million arrivals, 37.805 million departures, and 58.328 million transit passengers in 2023. He emphasised that this growth was bolstered by the resurgence of tourism and the successful hosting of major international conferences towards the end of the year.

Expressing optimism for 2024, Al Suwaidi anticipated further growth in passenger traffic to potentially reach 140 million. He mentioned expansions underway at international airports, particularly the inauguration of Zayed International Airport - Terminal A and the current expansion at Al Maktoum International Airport. These developments will enable UAE carriers to operate more flights to diverse destinations.

Al Suwaidi underscored the UAE's robust aviation sector, boasting over 521 aircraft belonging to national carriers and a total of 924 registered aircraft in the country. He also highlighted the presence of numerous local and foreign aircraft maintenance companies, training institutions, and specialised medical facilities catering to civil aviation.

Regarding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for amateurs, Al Suwaidi noted that over 22,000 are registered with the GCAA, but their operation remains suspended until further notice.

Looking ahead, Al Suwaidi outlined strategic projects focused on improving airspace management and ensuring smooth air traffic flow. Over AED700 million has been allocated to upgrade services at the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre over the next decade.

He mentioned that the authority is actively implementing a variety of transformative projects and initiatives aimed at directly fostering the economic and operational development of the aviation sector