D.Ubay International Airport chief executive yesterday said passenger surges in the first half of 2022 as pandemic restrictions ease and the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar will drive even more traffic to the city-state’s second airfield. said he did

Paul Griffiths, who oversees the world’s busiest international travel airport, told The Associated Press that the airport handled 160 percent more traffic in the past six months compared to the same period last year.

About 28 million people have used the airport in the past six months, up from the airport’s pre-pandemic levels of about 70, even though the Chinese market, Dubai’s main source of supply, remains closed due to severe restrictions due to the pandemic. %. Griffiths said he expects airport traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year.

“This is a very welcome surge in traffic,” said Griffiths.

He added that foreign football fans will flock to Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC) for the first World Cup in the Middle East. From there, they travel daily to Qatar, a small neighbor facing hotel pressure.

“At DWC, we’ve really seen a huge demand for slot filings from airlines that want to operate shuttle services,” he said. “I think the city has a lot to offer and take away from the World Cup.”

Qatar Airways, low-cost carrier FlyDubai and low-cost carrier Wizz Air Abu Dhabi are among the airlines buying additional slots from the DWC to shuttle football fans to tournaments, he said. rice field.

Ambitious plans to transform an airfield in the desert south of Dubai into a massive aviation hub first announced by Dubai before the 2008 global financial crisis have fallen apart in recent years. Dubai-based long-haul airline Emirates parked many of its double-decker Airbus A380s there as commercial flights were halted during the pandemic.

An important East-West transit point, Dubai’s air traffic is seen as a barometer of the city-state’s non-oil economy. Emirates continues to be a cornerstone of the wider empire known as ‘Dubai Corporation’.

In the first half of 2022, Dubai International Airport handled nearly 56% more flights than during the same period in 2021, when a contagious coronavirus variant hit the industry.

In a sign of the health of the industry now, Emirates announced yesterday that it will spend billions of dollars to retrofit most of its Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. At the height of the pandemic, the airline received her $4 billion bailout from the government.

The widespread lifting of virus restrictions has led to a rapid increase in demand for air travel, filling hubs in Dubai and causing disruptions at airports around the world.

Dubai hasn’t seen chaotic crowds overwhelm European hubs in recent weeks, but Griffiths said global turmoil is affecting major airports.

“Some of the capacity caps that have been applied to airports like Heathrow have impacted our numbers, so that has clearly impacted growth,” he said.

Last month, Emirates lashed out at Heathrow Airport, rejecting calls to limit departing passengers and cut flights to its London hub. Emirates later agreed to temporarily limit the sale of its flights.

Dubai has welcomed an influx of Russians to its beachfront villas and luxury hotels since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine forced Russia’s richest businessmen to scramble to save their assets from an expanding dragnet. The city is one of the few remaining flight routes from Moscow.

Griffiths declined to comment on the Russians taking cash out of the country to Dubai.

However, he said the flow of visitors from Russia will not stop anytime soon, adding that “Russia is still a major source of traffic for us.” Isabel Debre, Dubai, MDT/AP

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