The Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) expects passenger traffic at the Abu Dhabi International Airport this year to increase beyond last year's figures of 9.01 million, according to a senior Adac executive.
While addressing the Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit in the capital yesterday, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Airline Marketing and Aeronautical Revenue Vice-President at Adac, said despite the ongoing global recession, Abu Dhabi airport's growth would increase with more airlines expected to start operations from the airport.
"At present 41 airlines are operating from the airport, and from this month Bahrain Air will start its service. We are also talking to more airlines that are keen to operate from Abu Dhabi airport. And we expect to have more than nine million passengers this year," he said.
Al Bulooki said the airport saw 9.01 million passengers last year compared to 6.9 million in 2007.
When asked about the financial slowdown's impact on the aviation industry, he said the good thing about the recession is that airlines were under pressure to cut fares, which increases passenger movement, bringing growth for airports. "We now see that fares are down on many routes," he said.
Referring to Terminal 3, which is dedicated for Etihad Airways, Al Bulooki said it will be fully operational this month, with "one of the best" duty free shops in the business. He also said the midfield terminal work was on track for scheduled completion.
According to Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Adac's Chairman, the Middle East region is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world, with several key hubs being developed in GCC countries.
"Today, more than 50 per cent of overall aircraft orders stem from within the region, with airport expansion projects currently exceeding $36.8 billion," he said.
"While the region will undeniably develop and emerge as a major aviation player in the future, the right foundations must be put in place to maintain growth and ensure continued success, especially given the current economic slowdown.
"This includes close working relationships between airports and airlines, based on real and efficient business models, to realise greater growth within respective businesses and ensure win-win situations," Al Bulooki said.