UAE rains: Lost a bit of revenue, but no infrastructural damage due to storm, says Dnata chief

Heavy rainfall impacted DXB operations significantly on April 16 and consecutive days, disrupting flight schedules and baggage handling

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 14 May 2024, 2:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 May 2024, 5:36 PM

The unprecedented rains in the UAE last month had no significant financial impact, although Dnata experienced a slight revenue loss. The company's operation, which provides ground handling, cargo, travel, and flight catering services at Dubai International (DXB) airport, was affected by unstable weather conditions.

However, there was no damage to the company’s infrastructure during the record rains in mid-April, Steve Allen, CEO of Dnata Group, said.


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The UAE recorded the highest rains in 75 years, disrupting flight operations and cancelling more than 2,000 flights due to the flooding of Dubai International Airport.


“The heavy rains impacted the operations significantly on the day of the storm because everybody that works at DXB lives in Dubai, so their ability to get to work was impacted.

"It was a very extreme situation, but we recovered incredibly fast as an aviation community, and within days, things were back to normal and up and running quickly,” Allen said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

“Financial impact was not too significant. Of course, there were fewer flights taking off and landing, so we lost a bit of revenue from that, but all of the equipment was recoverable, and there was no damage to our infrastructure,” the dnata Group chief executive said.

Dnata is the subsidiary of Emirates Group, which announced record profits on Monday.

Earlier, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, said that the unprecedented rains recorded in UAE last month cost the Emirates airline “a lot” and “hit hard” on baggage handling operations.

“It (rains) cost us a lot at the end of the day. To see 200 millimetres of rain was really tough. We were used to disturbances across the globe in the US, Europe, and Australia, and we managed because they were in different hub areas. When it is your hub area here in Dubai, to see aircraft coming back and not leaving with limited gates and parking (was a challenge) because aircraft usually come in and go. So we have had much less gate and parking,” he said during a media briefing on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market.

A record-breaking rainstorm in April was by far the “most disruptive weather event” in the 63-year history of Dubai International (DXB) airport, with 2,155 flights cancelled, making it the highest number of cancellations yet, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told Khaleej Times in an earlier interview.

Dnata increased its profit by 330 per cent to Dh1.4 billion in 2023-24. Total revenue increased by 29 per cent to hit a new record of Dh19.2 billion, driven by increased flight and travel activity worldwide. dnata’s international businesses account for 75 per cent of its revenue, an increase of 3 per cent from the previous year.

Relocation to Al Maktoum Airport

He said the announcement of the Al Maktoum International Airport, which will absorb the existing Dubai International (DXB) in 10 years, is a sign of the success of aviation in Dubai.

“At the moment, the plans are to open in 2032. We are intimately involved in design and we have been engaged in what macro design looks like, what tunnel infrastructure under the airport should be and how we are going to power vehicles. All these types of things need to be thought through all the details. The great thing about Dubai is that we get experts and co-design it together. There is a tremendous opportunity and plenty of room for expansion in Dubai World Central. It will be securing the future of Dubai as one of the largest and most successful cities. As a megastructure, it will take about eight years to build,” he said during a media briefing.

Organic and inorganic growth

Forecasting both organic and inorganic growth to win the market share, he said the group plans to invest further in people, and infrastructure and to support the growth of Dubai.

“With 75 per cent of revenues from overseas make us a very unique company in Dubai as we have taken the home-grown capability to the world. We have a dedicated M&A team that looks for opportunities and they are actively looking at tens of different opportunities around the world. We have to make sure that it fits within the local legal and regulatory framework. We are interested in South America and looking for opportunities in the Middle East and Africa, the Far East where industry has not consolidated much.”

He noted that there are challenges for airlines with regard to the delivery of new aircraft.

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