Dubai International Airport expects passenger traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, a year earlier than its CEO Paul Griffiths’ prediction of hoping to regain pre-Covid traffic levels by 2024.

As air travel gets back to normal, Dubai Airport witnessed a half-yearly traffic of 27.9 million passengers this year, just 1.2 million shy of its total annual traffic last year.

Based on the strong first half, the airport has readjusted its annual forecast for 2022 to 62.4 million passengers, compared to its earlier estimate of 58.3 million.

The airport managed to hit 27.9 million for the first six months of 2022 despite a significant reduction in capacity following a 45-day shutdown of its northern runway in May-June for maintenance.

India was the top destination country for Dubai Airport with traffic for the first half reaching 4 million passengers. Saudi Arabia came in second with 2 million passengers, while United Kingdom came a close third with 1.9 million passengers.

Calling the airport’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19 spectacular, CEO Griffiths said, “We knew at the start of the pandemic that the dramatic downturn would be followed by an equally dramatic upturn, so we were well prepared for it and using all of the business data at our disposal were able to predict the start of the recovery.”

Speaking to the media, Griffiths also mentioned that Dubai has a lot to gain from the Federation Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) World Cup in Qatar this year — the first to be held in the Middle East.

Qatar Airways had earlier said that fellow Gulf Arab airlines would be operating daily shuttle flights to Qatar during the world cup, which would help ease pressure on Doha, which has been struggling with limited accommodation facilities for the world cup, and allow neighbouring Gulf states to benefit from the event.

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Tags: air traffic, asia monthly, coronavirus recovery, doha, dubai international airport, india, saudi arabia