Dubai airports expect peak as schools end and Eid starts
Dubai’s airports expect their annual peak season to begin this month, as schools finish and Eid arrives.
And with it should come a spike in their retail sales, especially for items with an Eid theme.
While cargo volumes and passenger numbers are forecast to grow from last year at a modest pace, it should be enough to set records for the busiest days at Dubai International Airport (DXB).
School holidays begin around June 22 this year, according to the Ministry of Education, and the Eid holiday is expected to start on June 25.
According to a spokesman for dnata, the Emirates Group subsidiary that handles cargo and provides ground travel services, the peak period at DXB will begin on Sunday, June 18, and run through Tuesday, August 15.
During this period last year, dnata handled more than 14 million passengers, which is just over 237,000 passengers a day, at (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) combined.
This year it expects an increase of about 5.9 per cent in the number of passengers for the period, when it will handle about 14.9 million passengers – nearly 253,000 passengers a day.
“From our experience some days will be busier than others and on peak travel days, such as during the school rush from June 18 to June 29, we will handle up to 300,000 passengers every day arriving, departing or transferring through Dubai’s airports,” said Steve Allen, the divisional senior vice president for UAE airport operations at dnata.
“For the rest of the year, for both DXB and DWC, we expect an increase of 4.8 per cent [in the total number of passengers handled] compared with last year.”
In the fiscal year that ended on March 31, dnata handled 86.12 million passengers at DXB and DWC combined.
In the current financial year, it expects this figure to grow by 4.8 per cent to 90.29 million.
With the increase in passenger numbers, industry experts expect some growth in retail sales at DXB during Eid.
“Eid is a gifting period and what motivates people to buy from duty free is value for money, and customised products such as jewellery linked to Eid,” said Hugo Van Der Schaegh, general manager at the travel retail branding and design agency ODG in Dubai.
For the whole year, macroeconomic conditions are not encouraging enough to forecast a significant growth in duty-free retail sales.
“Even though the euro and rouble have strengthened, the oil prices are still low and the Chinese economy is slow,” Mr Van Der Schaegh said. “For retail sales at airports, we are not expecting growth this year.”
The ban on laptops and mobile devices on direct flights to the United States from countries that include the UAE will also continue to hamper sales of electronic goods at airports. The ban began on March 25 and is scheduled to run until October 14. It is expected to cost Dubai Duty Free about US$2 million in retail sales this year, according to the duty-free operator.
Dnata expects to handle more cargo during the Ramadan period versus a year earlier, and to record growth for the year as a whole at the two Dubai airports.
Last year during the Ramadan period, dnata handled 59,847 tonnes of cargo, which was a 3 per cent increase over 2015, at the two airports.
“We are anticipating the volumes to grow this year also as there is a significant surge in imports of perishable goods and e-commerce business during this period,” said Bernd Struck, senior vice president for the UAE cargo and DWC airline services division at dnata.
Dnata forecasts it handled 64,000 tonnes of cargo in May, a growth of 8 per cent compared to same period last year, at the two airports combined.
“We forecast growth going forward in June during Ramadan,” Mr Struck said.
In the financial year 2016-17, dnata cargo handled 714,429 tonnes of cargo at DXB and DWC and for the current financial year it is expecting at least 2 per cent growth at the two airports combined.
“It’s too early to project the yields as we have just entered into the new financial year,” Mr Struck said. “Last financial year we saw an improvement on the yields, although a lot would depend on the medium-term world economic outlook.”
Chiefs at cargo divisions globally were upbeat about volumes for the rest of the year but said they did not expect revenues to change, trade body IATA said in January.
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Updated: June 11, 2017 04:00 AM