Passenger traffic at UAE airports may reach 80 million in 2012
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, November 22 - 2012 at 09:38
With each of the UAE's three largest airports achieving double digit growth, total passenger traffic in the country may hit 80 million this year for first time, according to a new report by CAPA-Centre for Aviation.
Airport traffic in the UAE has doubled over the past five years, and with Dubai's Al Maktoum International Airport set to begin passenger operations in the second half of next year, traffic figures are forecast to double again by 2020, reaching more than 150 million per year.
At the moment, the UAE's airport traffic trails only a few cities in the world, but it is catching up fast. London remains the world's busiest air transport system, with its five major airports handling 133 million passengers last year, but its growth is strained by airport capacity.
New York's major airports handled 105.5 million passengers last year, but they are also approaching their capacity limits.
By contrast, Dubai's two airports alone will add a combined capacity for another 20 million passengers next year, including the Emirates-dedicated Concourse 3 at Dubai International Airport, the report noted. Capacity for another 90 million passengers will be added in Dubai over the next decade, the report noted.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is aiming to boost capacity for another 27-30 million passengers per year by 2017 with the development of the new Midfield Terminal Complex. The terminal will ultimately have capacity for 50 million passengers per year.
Not be overlooked is Sharjah International Airport, which is home to the region's largest low cost carrier - Air Arabia. Traffic at the airport is up by more than 700,000 passengers compared to the same period last year, with just a 3.9% increase in aircraft movements. CAPA attributes this to Air Arabia's load factor improvement and the steady increase in larger aircraft operating to the airport.
Looking ahead, the only major obstacle to the growth of the UAE's airport network is capacity in the air in the Gulf region, which according to IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler is "already nearing crisis levels". The report says regional solutions will be needed to address airspace congestion, while noting that the UAE has been proactive about engaging its neighbours in airspace development.
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