Dubai International Handles 34.67 Million Passengers In First Half

July 25--Passenger traffic at Dubai International rose 6.2 per cent to 34.67 million in first half of 2014 despite a runway refurbishment programme that reduced the airport to a one-runway operation and cut flights by over 26 per cent during May and June.

The world's largest airport handled 8.5 per cent less passengers last month due to runway upgrade and reduced flights operations. Compared to 5.53 million passengers in June 2013, only 5.06 million travellers passed through the airport in June, the 18th consecutive month of more than five million, according to latest data issued by Dubai Airports on Thursday.

The airport, which was reduced to single runway, recorded 27 per cent decline in aircraft movements last month as it dropped to 22,031 from 30,191 movements in corresponding period last year. It also noted 6.6 per cent year-on-year drop in aircraft movements, which reduced to 170,815 during January-June period this year compared to 182,911 in same period last year.

However, passengers per aircraft movements rose 16.1 per cent to 235, from 202 during the same period last year as airlines, in particular Emirates, used larger aircraft. The airport is now back to full operations with both runways reopening on July 21, 2014, paving the way for renewed growth towards the end of the year.

"The first half numbers are impressive given the capacity reductions we put in place to allow us to conduct vital upgrades to both runways at our hub," said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports.

"However, this slight drag on our usual double-digit growth will be short-lived. The successful completion of the runway refurbishment comes just in time to accommodate the surge in passenger numbers expected with next week's Eid holiday."

Dubai International is expected to have its busiest days on record between July 24 and July 27. To meet this demand Dubai Airports have introduced extra staff and facilities to meet the increase and eliminate any potential delays.

"Despite the two months of runway works, Dubai International has managed to record a robust 6.2 per cent increase in first-half traffic over the same period a year ago. This takes into account the 8.5 per cent passenger traffic fall for the month of June when work was at full swing and the airport operating with just one runway," Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said.

Given the stellar performance of Dubai International Airport so far this year, he said it is very possible that they'll get close to around 68 million passengers this year, paving the way to smash through the 70 million mark next year and claim the top slot as the world's most busiest international airport.

Last year, Dubai International handled 66.4 million passengers.

"The additional capacity offered by Al Maktoum International will have helped the likes of Emirates to maintain a robust schedule, but even so, credit is due to the planners who made the runway upgrade work look so effortless," Ahmad said, adding that this is a true testament as to what future potential the current airport really has.

The data shows that cargo volumes also dropped by 14.3 per cent in June to 180,025 tonnes from the 210,134 tonnes in same month last year. The airport regulator attributed this decline to reduced passenger flights and shifting of dedicated freighters to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central.

In the first six months of 2014, freight volumes fell to 1,183,247 tonnes, down 1.8 per cent from the 1,204,951 tonnes recorded in same period last year.

Copyright 2014 - Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates