Dubai Airports expects a full recovery in passenger traffic to come a year earlier than expected amid a resurgence in travel, according to the chief executive officer of the Gulf hub.
Customer traffic at Dubai International Airport is expected to hit 62.4 million in 2022, Paul Griffiths said in a Bloomberg Television interview. That compares with an earlier estimate of 58.3 million people traveling through the Gulf hub.
Dubai attracted 86.4 million travelers in 2019, reflecting the dominance of home carrier Emirates on globe-spanning long-haul routes. The airport had previously forecast a return to those levels by 2024, but Griffiths said a first-half surge that saw passenger numbers jump 162 percent year-on-year meant a recovery would come sooner.
“It’s an enormous surge,” he told Bloomberg TV. “As the transfer market recovers, which is the last remaining market to come back, we’re going to see sustained growth throughout the rest of the year,” Griffiths said.
“Hopefully during the course of next year we will be back to the pre-pandemic levels that we enjoyed before.”
While airports across western Europe have been plagued by staffing shortfalls and union turmoil for many weeks, prompting moves to cap capacity and slim down timetables, Dubai managed to avoid the chaos seen in hubs including London Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol.
“We knew at the start of the pandemic that the dramatic downturn would be followed by an equally dramatic upturn, so we were well prepared for it and using all of the business data at our disposal were able to predict the start of the recovery,” Griffiths said in a statement.
Later this year, Dubai is set to be among the main beneficiaries of the FIFA world cup that starts in Qatar in November. The tournament will attract millions of fans, many of whom will likely stay in Dubai and travel to Qatar for matches amid constraints on hotel capacity.
There’s going to be shuttle flights between Doha and Dubai, Griffiths said.
“A lot of people would choose to stay in Dubai and visit Doha for each individual match, he said. “It’s going to be a very busy time, and were putting some very special arrangements in place to make it easy for everyone.”
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