Covid vaccines Dubai: Air travel set to soar this year

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on January 9, 2021
File photo used for illustrative purpose. (Credit: Government of Dubai Media Office/Twitter)

Dubai Airports' passenger traffic will gradually return to its peak level as airlines restore full passenger operations, experts say.

Dubai Airports (DXB) is set to stage a strong rebound this year, thanks to the UAE’s Covid-19 vaccination drives and the government’s swift action plan, experts have said.

Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London’s StrategicAero Research, said Dubai Airports’ passenger traffic will gradually return to its peak level as the UAE airlines such as Emirates and flydubai restore full passenger operations.

Close to 18 million passengers passed through the airports in 2020 — despite the Covid-19 pandemic prompting lockdowns and border closures.

“Given the absolute decimation of global air travel as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, every single airport in the world has seen a total collapse in traffic and performance. And with Dubai International – it is no different. As the busiest international gateway in the world, that passenger numbers have fallen so sharply is a direct result of the pandemic and global lockdowns, forcing people to cancel travel plans everywhere,” Ahmad said.

In 2019, Dubai Airports retained its position as world’s number one international airport for the sixth consecutive year with annual traffic of 86.4 million passengers. This came despite a 3.1 per cent year-on-year decline. It had become the world’s number one airport for international passengers in 2014, with passenger numbers totalling 70.4 million.

“With the introduction of various Covid vaccines, it is going to take at least 18 months before a sizeable proportion of the global population is inoculated. Only then will we see something like a rebound or return to a degree of normalcy that we have previously been accustomed to,” Ahmed added.

Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director-general of GDRFA Dubai, confirmed that Dubai Airports witnessed an increase in passenger numbers since the return of air traffic in July last year.

He said the increase in the number of travellers during the New Year holidays reflects the increased confidence in the precautionary and preventive measures taken by the UAE to address the repercussions of Covid-19.

737 MAX

Ahmad said: “With the UAE one step closer to authorising the use of the 737 MAX for safe flight, flydubai will be critical for passengers who fly in a cost-conscious way. Flydubai will quickly be able to use the efficiencies of its 737 MAX fleet to ensure passengers can fly safely and cheaply to destinations once vaccinations and lockdowns end – and this in turn will drive demand into Dubai and the wider UAE.”


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