Dubai Airport CEO Expects Pre-Covid Traffic Levels by 2024

Skift grip

As Dubai Airport prepares to reach pre-pandemic levels, CEO Paul Griffiths expects oil prices and inflation to drive up wages. However, he is confident that the request would remain unchanged.

Peden Doma Bhutia

Dubai’s main airport reported its busiest quarter in two years on Thursday as the rebound in international travel gathers pace, with its CEO predicting Dubai International could see pre-Covid numbers by the end of 2024.

The Gulf hub, one of the world’s main gateways for international travel, welcomed 13.6 million passengers between January and March, more than double the 5.7 million in the same period the last year.

This is the best performance since 17.8 million passengers in the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic closed most international borders and forced airlines to halt flights.

The public operator now expects 58.3 million passengers to pass through the airport this year, compared to an initial forecast of around 56 million.

“This indicates that we can be more optimistic about the future and expect to return to pre-Covid levels perhaps as early as 2024,” CEO Paul Griffiths told Reuters in Dubai.

Recovery at the airport, the hub of Emirates airline, continues to be driven by point-to-point traffic, which Griffiths says currently accounts for around 70% of all passengers.

Before the pandemic, the airport, which only handles international flights, had equal passenger traffic with those transiting to board flights to other destinations.

Griffiths said point-to-point may remain the biggest contributor to passenger traffic flows until Asian markets, such as China, lift Covid-19 restrictions.

“We have to be a bit specious about the recovery rate, particularly for the transit market, but overall we’re quite optimistic.”

Griffiths also said passengers may soon start to see more expensive airfares due to high oil prices and inflation, but doubted this would reduce demand pent up during the pandemic.

(Written by Alexander Cornwell Edited by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter)

This article was written by Alexander Cornwell of Reuters and has been legally licensed through Industry Dive Content market. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].