x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai airport posts 10.7% gains last month

Dubai Airport passenger traffic increases by 10.7 per cent last month, ending a better-than-expected summer season for Emirates Airline.

Dubai Airport passenger traffic increased by 10.7 per cent last month, ending a better-than-expected summer season for Emirates Airline and more than 120 others serving the hub. The airport's double-digit gains over the past three months - it grew 10.3 per cent in June and 12.6 per cent in July - make Dubai International Airport among the few hubs in the world to show growth amid the general downturn.

Also showing growth was Abu Dhabi International Airport, which said traffic increased by 2.5 per cent last month. This follows 10.3 per cent growth in July and 7.9 per cent in June. Worldwide, airlines are expected to lose US$11 billion (Dh40.37bn) this year after the global financial slowdown hit demand for travel. Airports are dealing with a three-year setback in growth forecasts, according to Airports Council International (ACI).

But in June, ACI reported Dubai airport was the fifth-largest by international traffic and the only one among the top 15 hubs to record growth. Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports, said the results showed Dubai remained a vital transit hub as well as a destination for trade and tourism. The airport operator expects its growth to rise 8.3 per cent this year and 13.6 per cent next year.

Hoteliers, Emirates Airline and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) banded together at the beginning of the traditionally slow summer period to launch a campaign which included aggressive discounting and promotional deals to lure more tourists to the emirate. The campaign's anchor was the "kids go free" initiative. Supported by 70 hotels, the worldwide promotion included free accommodation, meals and entry to key attractions in the emirate for one child under 16.

"The end of the summer also marks the beginning of the high season for tourists. Dubai International is on track to set a new record of 40.5 million passengers by year end," Mr Griffiths said. The emirate has embarked on a renewed push for tourists and recently launched its "Definitely Dubai" marketing campaign. Meanwhile, a new cruise terminal is due to open in January. Dubai is aiming to attract 15 million visitors a year by 2015, which is almost double the number of visitors the emirate hosted last year.

Tourism is the largest single contributor to Dubai's GDP. Last year it directly added 19 per cent and indirectly contributed 32 per cent. In the first six months of the year, the number of travellers using the airport rose 6.7 per cent while worldwide traffic contracted by 7 per cent, according to ACI. In the second half of the year the airport's figures will be bolstered by flydubai, the Dubai Government-owned budget airline which launched in June and now flies to several destinations in Egypt and the Levant as well as Djibouti.

Other indicators also showed growth at Dubai airport, including cargo shipments which rose by 2.9 per cent to 163,000 tonnes. igale@thenational.ae