UAE flights: Airlines' seating capacity grows by over 67% in 2022

Dubai International Airport remains the busiest airport for international flights in December, with 4.6 million seats


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 20 Dec 2022, 6:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Dec 2022, 6:43 PM

The scheduled seating capacity of airlines on the UAE routes grew year-on-year in 2022, albeit at a slower pace, as the recovery in aviation continues at a steady pace.

According to the latest data released by global travel data provider OAG, scheduled seating capacity reached 63.89 million this year as against 38.16 million last year, up by 67.4 per cent. When compared with 2020, the seating capacity has almost doubled from 32.28 million to 63.78 million, an increase of 97.6 per cent.

When compared to the pre-pandemic year, the seating capacity is still 15.9 per cent below the 2019 level when airlines’ seating capacity on the UAE route reached 75.78 million.

After the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, airlines were grounded and airports were shut down in order to combat the disease. The UAE had also taken steps in 2020 in line with global healthy safety guidelines and restricted airlines’ movements.

But Dubai, which was among the first to reopen after Covid-19, has recovered very well post-pandemic. Data released in November showed DXB traffic returning to pre-pandemic level in the third quarter. Hence, Dubai Airports revised upward passenger traffic forecast for 2022 following strong passenger traffic in the previous quarters.

The airport operator raised its forecast for 2022 by 1.5 million to 64.3 million after passenger traffic nearly tripled in the third quarter from the same period last year.

“The growth in passenger traffic has been terrific throughout the year and continues to exceed our expectations by a margin. While we are thrilled with the numbers, what really gives us immense satisfaction is how the airport community is working together like a well-oiled machine to keep raising the bar on service quality,” Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, said after the third quarter results.


DXB still world's busiest airport

According to OAG, Dubai International Airport also remained the busiest airport for international flights in December 2022 with 4.6 million seats, an increase of eight per cent compared to the previous month, followed by London Heathrow Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Sahil Sharma, business head of Innovations Group, expects travel and tourism and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) will assist the aviation sector in UAE to continue its steady growth in 2023.

“Tourism is a significant contributor to Dubai. UAE airports are constantly adapting, improving, and delivering convenience through technology by evolving the customer journey. UAE will have the ability to attract a higher volume of visitors due to this and the significant growth in air traffic globally,” he said.

In addition, he said the United Nations climate summit COP28 to be held in Dubai in 2023 will further attract high volumes of international visitors who will be in attendance at the convention all year round.

Globally, there will be 4.7 billion scheduled seats by the end of 2022, OAG said.

“Global capacity has bounced back by over 30 per cent compared to 2021 and by nearly 50 per cent when compared to 2020. We are, however, still on a per annum basis around 18 per cent below the 2019 level and despite the second half of the year reporting a stronger performance with around a 13-15 per cent shortfall, catching up any further after the first quarter of the year was a challenge,” it said.


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