Record passenger growth at Abu Dhabi Airport

The airport handled more than 700,000 passengers in April. (SALEM KHAMIS)

Abu Dhabi International Airport handled more than 700,000 passengers in April, the highest passenger growth – of more than 40 per cent– attained for the month.

According to Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac), the passenger growth in April this year was beyond expectations.

"The airport handled more than 703,000 passengers in April 2008, compared to the 501,000 in the same month last year.

"There was also growth in total aircraft movements for the month, which showed a 17-per cent upward trend. The airport is witnessing constant year-on-year growth," said a spokesman of Adac.

Adac yesterday released its April 2008 traffic figures revealing a huge 40.9 per cent increase in passenger traffic over the same month last year. On the back of robust growth in the first quarter of 2008, which saw an equally impressive 34 per cent increase, the year-to-date figures, for the first four months, show a similar 35 per cent boost in passenger numbers through the UAE capital's main airport.

"Significantly, these figures are in stark contrast to international trends, as suggested by the International Air Transport Association, with global growth rates predicted to grow at a more modest 5.1 per cent up to 2011," Adac said in a statement.

CEO Rudy Vercelli, while commenting on the results, said the growth has been triggered by the effects of the capacity increases of Abu Dhabi's home airline, Etihad.

He said there has been a marked increase in business-related travel as the growing conference and exhibitions sector has boosted business tourism to Abu Dhabi.

Another force behind the growth, he added, was the arrival of five new airlines operating through Adac airports from January this year.

The new airlines that have just started operations from Abu Dhabi Airport in 2008 are Jet Airways (India), Nas Air (Saudi Arabia), Fly Yeti (Nepal), MIDEX Airlines (Abu Dhabi) and Cargoitalia (Italy).

India, currently Abu Dhabi's largest market, also posted strong passenger increases of more than 41 per cent due to Etihad's capacity growth to destinations in south India and improved load factors on existing routes, as well as the commencement of services with Jet Airways' services to New Delhi and Mumbai.

The airport also witnessed growth in its cargo operations with an 18-per cent increase over the same month last year.

Adac further released data detailing the top three destinations served out of Abu Dhabi – or 18 per cent of total passenger traffic at the airport.

The top destination was Doha closely followed by London, with Bangkok just edging out Cairo for the third most popular destination from the UAE capital.

"The changing demographic and passenger profile demonstrates Abu Dhabi's increasing international reach and its growing connectivity to key destinations worldwide.

This is a reflection of the growth of Abu Dhabi's Etihad and the ever-increasing number of airlines attracted by Abu Dhabi Airport's strategic location and business approach," said Vercelli.