Passenger traffic to the Dubai International Airport reached close to 7 million in November, boosted by an inflow of tourists from the Indian subcontinent and Western Europe, Dubai Airports said.
“Passenger numbers from the Indian subcontinent and Western Europe dominated traffic in November, with more than 1.5 million passengers from each region,” according to Dubai Airports.
Dubai Airports added that passenger traffic rose 5.8% to 80,3 million in the first eleven months of 2017, compared with 75,9 million for the same period in 2016.
“Over the past year, Dubai International has witnessed consistent growth in terms of passenger traffic,” said Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports’ chief executive.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia climbed to the second spot in terms of passenger numbers for the first time in months, with 534,906 travelling to Dubai in November, overtaking the UK which registered 507,796 in traffic.
But how will these figures help the regional aviation industry?
An uptick in passenger traffic in the UAE and the Middle East region overall will help regional carriers double their profit to $600 million in 2018, with demand expected to outpace announced capacity expansion, according to the International Air Transport Association.
But profits and positive figures do not come without challenges. What does Emirates CEO Tim Clark have to say about it?
Clark said that Emirates’ operations faced various challenges.
“Our operations were challenged by short-notice changes to entry requirements into the US, the cabin electronics ban, updated security measures, and continued capacity challenges at our busy hub,” he said.
Clark added that Emirates also faced competition.
“We had to tough out a sluggish global trading environment with a tick down of key European economies, and political and security shakiness across the globe,” he said.
He added that increased oil prices also posed some challenges.
“The upward movement of oil prices has been a double edged sword – adding to our costs, but also stoking the fires of economic recovery,” he said.
But what did Emirates do about it?
“At Emirates, we worked closely with our partners to tackle the challenges with agility, and limit any negative impact on the experience that we offer our customer,” said Clark.
Emirates also continued to grow it operations in Europe while expanding its services into China with Beijing and Shanghai becoming all-A380 operations, and it added new South East Asian cities.
“During the year, we reaffirmed our partnership with Qantas and have signed up for another five years, pending approval. We also announced a significant partnership with flydubai, which will continue on an upward trajectory as we announce further developments in the coming months,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2018, Clark sees signs of a global uptick, he said.
His views were echoed by Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths who said that in 2018 traffic across both of airports, DXB and DWC, is projected to exceed 91 million.
“In the long term, our geocentric location, our open skies policy that promotes traffic expansion, and Dubai as a leading centre for trade, commerce and tourism, will spur traffic growth,” he said.
“Accordingly, we are solidifying plans to accommodate increased passenger numbers and growing cargo volumes.”
Griffiths said Dubai Airports will continue to invest in cost-effective connection services and infrastructure. “Also, technology and process will boost DXB’s capacity to 118 million by 2023,” he said.
Griffiths emphasized the need to foster an environment that is genuinely collaborative.
“We need to eliminate weak links. The most intrusive processes in travel revolve around documentation, validation and security. And these occur multiple times during a single journey. The processes on the ground are the weakest part of the aviation supply chain. Legacy thinking would lead to the conclusion that the industry must strengthen the weaker links,” he said.