x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi airport flies at record high

Abu Dhabi International Airport said it achieved record passenger numbers over the summer.

The number of passengers travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport has been steadily increasing. Stephen Lock / The National
The number of passengers travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport has been steadily increasing. Stephen Lock / The National

Abu Dhabi International Airport said it achieved record passenger numbers over the summer. The news came as global airline executives descended on the capital for the World Route Development Forum.

In July, 1.35 million passengers used the airport, a rise of almost 17 per cent compared with a year earlier and the highest monthly total, according to Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac).

Last month, there was an even healthier increase as the number of passengers travelling through the airport increased by a fifth compared with the same month a year ago.

The aviation industry is a major contributor to the UAE's non-oil economy and last year accounted for Dh60bn (US$16.33bn), or 6.2 per cent, of the country's GDP, according to a report by Oxford Economics.

"July and August this year have been exceptional months with the airport seeing its largest volume of passenger traffic in its history. With a year-to-date growth of 21.5 per cent, Adac is one of the world's fastest-growing airport operators," said Ahmed Al Haddabi, the company's chief operating officer.

Cargo haulage increased by almost 28 per cent to reach 50,371 tonnes in July compared with a year earlier and by 16 per cent to 46,376 tonnes last month.

Last year, 12.37 million passengers passed through Abu Dhabi's main airport and Adac has the stated ambition to reach the 20 million mark in the coming years.

The Midfield Terminal, a multi-billion-dollar project, will add to the airport's capacity once completed in 2017.

The increased use of the airport is due in part to the flagship carrier Etihad Airways, which has added new routes and expanded existing ones. Bangkok, in particular, has proven a popular destination with flights added and a 49 per cent increase in traffic.

Dubai International Airport also released its latest monthly figures last week. Passenger numbers for last month increased by 20 per cent from a year earlier to reach 4.8 million, while cargo throughput rose by 4.4 per cent to 190,770 tonnes.

The airport's operator, Dubai Airports, attributed the sharp rise in passenger numbers to lower rates of travel in August last year, which coincided with the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Dubai International Airport's passenger numbers increased to 37.8 million in the first six months of the year.

The growth in traffic coincides with a strong performance by the Dubai Airport Free Zone (Dafza), which grew its revenue by 82 per cent in the first half of this year on the back of a further 105 companies registering for office space. More than 1,600 companies now operate out of the free zone, which contributes 2.3 per cent of Dubai's GDP, according to Dafza.

The World Route Development Forum, an industry event that brings together aviation executives, runs through Tuesday.

fneuhof@thenational.ae