Dubai Airports sees brighter aviation outlook as travel rules ease

More countries to drop PCR test requirements in coming weeks, says Dubai Airports CEO

Dubai International airport reported 12.7 per cent surge in annual passenger traffic to 29.1 million in 2021. — Supplied photo
Dubai International airport reported 12.7 per cent surge in annual passenger traffic to 29.1 million in 2021. — Supplied photo

Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 6:55 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 10:40 PM

More countries will drop Covid-19 PCR testing rules and give way to vaccination certificates in the coming weeks, brightening the outlook for the aviation sector, said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

Griffiths’ comments came on Tuesday after Dubai International (DXB) airport reported 12.7 per cent surge in annual passenger traffic to 29.1 million in 2021 with India, retaining its position as the world’s busiest international airport for the eighth consecutive year.

A number of countries have eased Covid-19 rules and some of them dropped PCR test requirements also for vaccinated travellers including Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Croatia, France, the UK, Switzerland and others.

In a major announcement made on Tuesday, the UAE airlines also eased restrictions for travellers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, no longer requiring them to take pre-departure Covid test at the airport which will, according to travel industry executives, substantially boost travel sector in the UAE.

“I do expect across the world, the testing regime for travel will start to disappear pretty quickly and we’re hopeful that there will be an announcement over the next few weeks from many different places. The whole idea of having to have tests for travel will give way to vaccination certificates,” said Griffiths.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has also been consistently calling for removal of all travel barriers including quarantine and PCR testing for those fully vaccinated with approved vaccines.

55m+ passengers in 2022

As the outlook for the future looks particularly good, Griffiths said that Al Maktoum International Airport will reopen for scheduled, commercial passenger flights in May for the first time since the pandemic began.

“With the eagerly anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further easing of travel regulations around the world, the outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to lead the world’s air travel sector on the road to recovery,” Dubai Airports chief said.

However, Griffiths added that passenger traffic at Dubai international airport will not recover to pre-Covid levels before 2024 despite a better outlook for this year.

Current forecasts indicate that traffic through DXB could reach 55.1 million by the end of 2022, but Griffiths acknowledges that if current trends continue, that figure could be exceeded by a significant margin.

India, Pakistan top destinations

Griffiths added that despite unprecedented turmoil affecting millions of people all over the world, DXB overcame many serious obstacles and provided smooth, comfortable and safe travel for millions of people last year.

“Despite these serious challenges to our ongoing success, we managed to exceed our own forecasts and continue to retain our crown as the world’s busiest international airport.”

According to Dubai Airports, 2021 numbers were propelled by a robust growth in the final three months of the year during which DXB recorded 11.79 million passengers, 77 per cent more than in the previous quarter. It was the busiest quarter since Q1 2020, and the first time since the start of the pandemic that DXB’s quarterly traffic surpassed the 10 million mark. December was the busiest month of the year with 4.5 million passengers.

India remained the top destination for DXB by passenger volume, accounting for 4.2 million of the total, followed by Pakistan (1.8m), Saudi Arabia (1.5m), the UK (1.2m), the US (1.1m), Egypt (1m) and Turkey (945,000).

While top destination cities were Istanbul (916,000 passenger) Cairo (905,000), London (814,000) and New Delhi (791,000).

DXB is connected to 198 destinations across 93 countries through 84 international carriers, significantly more than in 2019 before the pandemic. The number of flight movements reached 77,671 during the fourth quarter bringing the annual flight movements to 233,375, a year-on-year growth of 28.1 per cent.

(With inputs from Reuters, AFP)

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