2021 outlook 'very promising' as passengers return: Dubai Airports CEO

Over the next several days, traffic will expand to more than a million, with daily peaks averaging 100,000 flyers during weekends

  
Emirates airliners are seen on the tarmac in a general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 13, 2021.

Emirates airliners are seen on the tarmac in a general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 13, 2021.

REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi

Passenger traffic for 2021 looks promising as travel is starting to take off again on the back of seasonal summer demand, easing of COVID-19 restrictions and major events in the emirate, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said on Wednesday. 

The operator of Dubai International (DXB), ranked as the world’s busiest airport, also reported that 10.6 million travellers passed through its gates in the first half of 2021, still lower by 40.9 percent compared to the same period in 2020.  

Over the next several days, traffic will expand to more than a million, with daily peaks averaging 100,000 flyers during weekends. 

“We have already witnessed some of our busiest weekends of the year in July and with major international events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and Dubai Airshow 2021 lined up for the months ahead, the outlook for 2021 in terms of passenger numbers looks very promising,” Griffiths said in a statement shared on Twitter. 

The airport’s passenger volumes slumped at the start of the pandemic last year when carriers grounded their flights as part of the precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. With borders reopening and travel confidence gradually returning, Dubai’s main aviation hub is getting busier. 

DXB has recently reopened Terminal 1 and Concourse D, home to 60 international carriers, after more than a year of hibernation, to accommodate the seasonal rush of travellers over the summer. 

“This was essential to facilitate the continued expansion of the route networks of our home base carriers Emirates and flydubai, whose joint network spans 168 destinations and growing,” Griffiths said. 

Traffic drivers

Despite the travel restrictions, Dubai Airports also reported that India continued to be the airport's top destination country in terms of traffic volume from January to June this year, with flyers exceeding 1.9 million.

Pakistan emerged as the second destination, with 700,074 customers, followed by Russia (406,209) and Egypt (401,361).

The UAE recently loosened travel restrictions on inbound and transit passengers from several countries in Asia and Africa, including India. The United Kingdom also upgraded the UAE to its “amber” list of countries, easing the quarantine rules for arriving travellers from the UAE. 

DXB stopped its operations from March 25 last year due to COVID-19. Overall traffic is still lower compared to the pre-pandemic levels, with the first quarter alone recording a 67.8 decline in numbers. 

Dubai’s hosting of the World Expo this year is expected to attract more international visitors to the UAE. 

In 2020, around 25.9 million travellers passed through DXB, down from 86.4 million a year earlier. For the upcoming year, passenger traffic at the airport is forecast to hit 56 million, Griffiths had told Reuters. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

Cleofe.maceda@refinitiv.com 

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