Dubai predicts air traffic from China will rebound in the fourth quarter, raising the need to boost capacity at the world’s busiest international airport.
(Bloomberg) — Dubai predicts air traffic from China will rebound in the fourth quarter, raising the need to boost capacity at the world’s busiest international airport.
The city’s main air hub increased its forecast for this year to 85 million passengers from 83.6 million, after a surge in arrivals pushed numbers to pre-Covid levels, its chief executive officer said.
About 41.6 million passengers traveled through Dubai International Airport in the first half of 2023. That was up 49% from a year earlier and exceeded arrivals during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic grounded air lines across the world.
“We have to accelerate our efforts to improve the capacity of the existing airport in the short term, which will cover us for the next 10 to 15 years,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.
“Then, we have to have a real push to develop the big one,” he said, referring to the city’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, which is designed to accommodate more passengers once it fully opens.
The company sees a “very strong” rebound in China, he said. The world’s second-biggest economy was mostly closed to international travelers until earlier this year, when strict Covid lockdowns were lifted.
Demand for long-haul travel has picked up in the past two years as travel restrictions have ended. Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, posted a $3 billion dollar profit for the year through March, and the city reported a record number of tourist arrivals in the first half. That’s helped push hotel room rates to a fresh high.
The sector’s resilience has also prompted speculation of an initial public offering in Dubai, where the government plans to privatize more state-owned firms.
Airports are a “very attractive proposition” for IPOs, Griffiths said, but added that any decision on a listing would be entirely up to the government.
–With assistance from Sarah Halls and Benedikt Kammel.
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