Dubai’s main airport has raised its passenger forecast for this year by 1.5 million to 64.3 million after passenger traffic nearly tripled in the third quarter from the same period last year, the CEO of the airport’s operator said on Tuesday.
DXB, a major international travel hub, handled nearly 18.5 million passengers in July-September, state-owned operator Dubai Airports’ Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said, up from 6.7 million a year earlier.
“We’re optimistic that Q4 will be even better than Q3 because the numbers that we’re seeing coming through now are exceeding our projections,” Griffiths said, adding point-to-point traffic had been “extremely strong”.
The 2022 traffic forecast had been raised to 62.8 million from 62.4 million with third-quarter results.
DXB, where maximum capacity is 118-120 million, expects 77.8 million passengers next year and about 93.3 million in 2025, Griffiths said.
Dubai’s travel industry has been recovering steadily since the pandemic, as a fast vaccination programme allowed it to open up sooner than most cities, while the six-month world fair that ended in March this year helped boost the recovery.
Also a boon for Dubai are the many soccer fans basing themselves in the commercial hub for the World Cup in neighbouring Qatar, where accommodation capacity is stretched.
Dubai-based fans are using dozens of daily flights to Doha out of Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), which is also operated by Dubai Airports. The airport expects nearly half a million passengers in the fourth quarter.
DWC’s capacity is 26.5 million and could rise to as much as 240 million in the long term, possibly replacing DXB, Griffiths said.
DXB has seen more than 46.3 million passengers year to date, up 168% year-on-year, but about 72% of traffic in the same period of 2019, Dubai Airports said.
Asked if Dubai Airports could publicly list, Griffiths said valuations for airport initial public offerings (IPOs) around the world had been “really healthy”.
“That is a decision that the Dubai government and my boss, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, I’m sure is considering at the moment, but that’s obviously for them to decide,” Griffiths said.