Traffic up 15% at Dubai airport


International passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport increased 15.11 per cent to 9.3 million during the first quarter of this year against 8.1m in the same period last year, according to Dubai’s civil aviation authority Dubai Airports.

March was the busiest month with 3.25 million passengers, while February registered the lowest at just over 2.97 million passengers, Dubai Airports said yesterday in a statement.

“With a total of 34.34 million passengers in 2007, the airport registered an increase of more than 19 per cent over 2006 in passenger throughput, which is expected to cross 40 million this year and reach 60 million by 2010,” the statement said.

Cargo traffic, meanwhile, increased 10 per cent to 399,718 tonnes in the first three months of the year, compared with 362,919 tonnes during the same period last year. And total aircraft movements went up by 8.5 per cent to 68,869 from 2006, Dubai Aiports, said.

March was again the busiest month for cargo with more than 144,954 tonnes, while February showed a greater year-on-year growth at 12.1 per cent.

“While we have managed to maintain a high growth rate since 2002, the challenge now is to manage that growth vis-à-vis our capacity and the customer service expectations we have helped raise over the years,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports.

Attributing the growth of Dubai International to open skies policy, Mohammed Ahli, Director-General of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and CEO, Air Traffic Services (ATS), said Dubai International has been able to sustain a high growth rate for over half a decade due to Dubai’s open skies policy.

“We have had new airlines joining us periodically. Our destination network has also expanded rapidly, especially in recent years,” said Ahli.

“In 2008 the list of airlines serving Dubai has so far increased to 124, an addition of four since 2007, while we have added as many new destinations to our network and it currently stands at 207,” Ahli added.

Dubai International, meanwhile, would be equipped to handle up to 75 million passengers by 2010, under its current expansion plan estimated at $2.5 billion (Dh9.1bn). And a major portion of the expansion project is expected to open by mid-2008, Dubai Airports had said earlier, adding that Dubai International Airport has been growing at an average of 15 per cent annually since 2000.

“In terms of rate of growth, and excellence in customer service, we want to be number one in the world. There have been challenges of growth. But when you get growth, which outstrips the supply of infrastructure, you have got some service challenges. And I think that is what has happened here,” Griffiths had earlier told Emirates Business.

“But there has been some excellent work done. And I am looking forward to building on that to get Dubai International Airport back to the number one slot.”