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Paul Griffiths is confident that traffic will return to normal by 2024 — but staffing issues could hold back the recovery at the world's busiest airport.

Dubai’s state airport operator is optimistic demand for international travel is recovering faster than expected, upwardly revising on Monday its outlook for Dubai airport.

CEO Paul Griffiths told Reuters that 28 million passengers were now expected to pass through Dubai International this year, up from its most recent forecast of between 26 million and 27 million passengers, and that it was more bullish on 2022.

“We are looking at the forecast for 2022. It was previously about 56 million. Presumably it’s going to get closer to 60 million once we have redone the numbers,” he said at the Dubai Airshow.

The airport is the world’s busiest for international travel and also the hub of Dubai state-owned airline Emirates.

The operator on Monday said 20.7 million passengers had passed through the airport in the year to October, of which half was in the four months between July and October.

Griffiths said the airport had recovered 80 percent of its origin and destination traffic, though transit traffic was at 20 percent, and that more airlines were flying there than before the pandemic.

The Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc on the airline industry as countries shut borders and enforced lockdowns and curfews.

But Griffiths said he believed governments in countries with high vaccination rates would not return to lockdowns if Covid-19 cases spiked, and instead was worried if he had enough staff.

The airport could see record arrivals into Dubai between now and the end of the year, he said at the Dubai Airshow.

“There is some concern about the resourcing but our teams are working very hard to minimise any disruption and ensure the arrival and departure process goes as smoothly as it possibly can.”

The airport, which expects to return to pre-pandemic passenger travel in 2024, handled 25.9 million passengers in 2020 and 86.4 million in 2019.

(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, covid-19, dubai, emirates

Photo credit: Dubai International Airport is the hub of Dubai state-owned airline Emirates. Emirates

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