Dubai airport traffic could reach pre-cowdid level by early 2024: CEO

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airport, said air passenger traffic in Dubai could reach pre-epidemic levels in 2024, a year earlier than previously expected.

“We recorded 13.6 million passengers in that first quarter [at Dubai International Airport]. That’s the reason we’re revising our forecast for the year, “he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Wednesday, calling it a” very encouraging “result.

“Originally, we thought 2025, but we’re probably going to go back to pre-covid levels – probably early Q1 or Q2 of 2024,” he said.

The number of passengers in the first quarter of 2022 is about 140% higher than the same period in 2021 and represents an increase of 15.7% from the last quarter of 2021, Dubai Airport said in a press release.

Some visitors to Dubai are actually helping to increase our point-to-point traffic numbers by more than 100% of the pre-coveted level.

Paul Griffiths

CEO, Dubai Airport

According to Airport Council International, air traffic was submerged during the epidemic, but Dubai International Airport was the busiest airport for international passengers in 2020 and 2021.

The airport served 29.1 million passengers in 2021 and 25.9 million in 2020. Griffiths said he expects traffic to hit 58.3 million passengers this year – still far from the numbers before the epidemic, when the airport saw 86.4 million customers in 2019.

Dubai Airport, which is owned by the city government, operates Dubai International and Dubai World Central Airports in the United Arab Emirates.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airport, said air passenger traffic in Dubai could reach pre-epidemic levels in 2024, a year earlier than previously expected.

Mr. Karim AFP | Getty Images

Travel between Dubai and the rest of the world, or point-to-point traffic, has rebounded “incredibly strongly,” Griffiths said.

“Some visitors to Dubai are actually helping to increase our point-to-point traffic numbers to more than 100% of the pre-coveted level,” he said.

The recovery in the transit market has been slow and stands at around 60% of the 2019 level, the press release said.

Some markets, such as Southeast Asia and Australia, closed their borders for some time, but are now reopening, he noted.

“So hopefully, in May, we will see a rebound in the Chinese travel market, stronger in Australia and all the traditional markets that are very good for us in terms of traffic will return to their previous strength,” he said.

China still adheres to its zero-cue policy and has imposed strict sanctions in recent weeks to deal with outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing.

Rules of travel

Given the health and safety requirements for air travel, including in-flight testing and mask mandates, Griffiths said they could soon be more convenient in Dubai.

“We are not too far from complete relaxation,” he said.

“We are very concerned, obviously, to relax the restrictions, but not until it is safe to do so,” he added.

Separately, the CEO said it was up to the government to decide whether Dubai airports would be publicly listed in the initial public offering.

“The Dubai government, I am sure, will make a decision in due course of time. And we will definitely take that decision with utmost enthusiasm,” he said.

Asked if the company is ready for an IPO, he said, “We are ready for anything.”

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