Stacking up numbers

Record pilgrim and tourist numbers spur growth of new airports

ANALYSIS, Business

Dubai International registered another record year with the airport’s 2010 passenger traffic reaching an historic 47.2million, up 15.3% over 40.9million in 2009 and 2.4% more than the 46.1million originally projected for the year.

According to the annual traffic report issued today by Dubai Airports, December passenger numbers reached 4.2million, an increase of 11.6% compared to 3.8million recorded during the same month in 2009. In terms of monthly traffic, the airport crossed the four million mark for the third consecutive month in December, and for the fourth time in 2010.

Dubai International Airport also witnessed strong cargo traffic growth in 2010, following a surge in air-freight volumes during the first three quarters of the year as the global economy recovered from the downturn and companies worldwide cleared inventories.

Air-freight traffic growth slowed to single-digit monthly increases during the latter part of the year, including December, when the facility handled 188,103t of freight in compared to 182,874t in the corresponding month in 2009, an increase of 2.9%.

Annual cargo traffic rose to 2.27 million tons, a robust 17.7% rise over the 1.93 million tons recorded in 2009.

Even with the trend of moderate cargo traffic growth expected to continue globally in 2011, freight volumes are fast-approaching Dubai’s 2.5-million tons of capacity, and should elevate the importance of Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central in accommodating additional cargo traffic.

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports, attributed Dubai International’s continued success to Dubai’s progressive aviation model.

“The key to our continued success has been our coordinated and supportive approach to aviation,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

“Dubai has a model, unlike Europe and elsewhere, that recognises aviation’s strategic importance and promotes growth in the sector.

It starts with an open skies policy, competitive rates and a tax-free environment that has attracted over 130 airlines to Dubai and extends to strategic investments in top-flight aviation infrastructure that promote high service standards and sustain rapid growth.

This combined with our geocentric location, which can effectively connect any two major cities in the world, will drive further expansion and continued benefits to consumers across the globe.”

“It was a year in which we celebrated many milestones,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

“We surpassed our growth projections, ushered in Dubai’s status as a twin-airport city with the opening of Al Maktoum International in June 2010, and celebrated Dubai International’s 50th anniversary.

The growth story continues in 2011, with passenger numbers expected to surge another 11% to 52.2million. As a result, we have plans to boost capacity on the ground and in the air to ensure we can accommodate the growth while improving service across the airport.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s (ADAC) 2010 performance report for Abu Dhabi International Airport revealed a 12.2% growth in passenger traffic at the capital’s international airport in 2010, compared with 2009, with nearly 11million passengers passing through the airport.

The positive passenger development during the year is also reflected in aircraft movement numbers, which reached 112,000 aircraft, a jump of 10% in comparison to 2009. Levels of air cargo demonstrated a dynamic growth of 16% in 2010, registering 438,000t of cargo handled.

The double-digit increase of passenger, aircraft and cargo figures are a strong indicator of the healthy growth that the Abu Dhabi economy is enjoying.

ADAC has invested heavily in attracting new airlines and encouraging existing airlines to expand their services to Abu Dhabi through new routes and increased frequencies.

The report indicated that, in 2010, Abu Dhabi International Airport welcomed five new international airlines, added six new destinations and serviced an average of 41 additional frequencies from its existing airlines – a 13% increase in the total weekly outbound flights compared with the previous year.

ADAC CEO James E. Bennett commented that “2010 witnessed strong traffic development at Abu Dhabi International Airport, well above the world airports average growth. Our developmental strategy, combined with Abu Dhabi’s increasing awareness as an attractive business and tourist destination.”

Air-raising Facts
Dubai International is the 5th busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger traffic volumes, and 4th in international cargo volumes, offering connections to over 220 destinations across six continents on more than 130 airlines.

Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central will eventually become the world’s largest airport, with a capacity of 160million passengers and 12million tons of cargo a year.

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