Dubai Airports sees travel surge this year, full rebound by 2024
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Dubai Airports sees travel surge this year, full rebound by 2024

Dubai Airports sees travel surge this year, full rebound by 2024

Dubai Airports CEO said demand this year could surprise on the upside

Dubai Airport

The number of passengers using Dubai’s main airport should double this year as borders reopen, though a recovery to pre-Covid levels may take until 2024, according to the chief executive officer of the Gulf hub.

Customer traffic at Dubai International Airport is expected to hit 57 million in 2022, spurred by global moves to free up travel for vaccinated passengers, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said in a Bloomberg Television interview. That compares with 29.1 million people last year.

“We’ve reached that inflection point where the lockdowns have done their job,” Griffiths said. “I think the urge to travel, when people have the confidence and the disposable income, having not done so for a long time, will be very marked.”

The reopening of markets such as Australia is particularly welcome for a global crossroad that relies on connecting the Asia-Pacific region with the rest of the world via a stop in Dubai. But with countries including China still closed, the forecast for 2022 puts volumes at roughly where they were a decade ago. Griffiths said it may take 18 months beyond year-end to reach 2019 levels.

Dubai attracted 86.4 million travellers that year, making it the world’s biggest international airport, a status that reflected the dominance of home carrier Emirates on globe-spanning long-haul routes.

Griffiths said demand this year could surprise on the upside, with strong booking trends including “very encouraging” summer sales suggesting that Dubai Airports estimates maybe “a little bit conservative.”

Border openings
The CEO said he’s optimistic border restrictions will be further eased for the fully vaccinated in coming weeks. The UK, which provides Dubai with some of its busiest routes, has scrapped testing for vaccinated arrivals, while Australia reopened its border on Monday following almost two years of strict travel bans.

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