UAE air traffic jumps in H1 despite Arab Spring

Total flights in and out of the country reaches 3.3 million.
NEWS, Aviation


Traffic across the UAE’s six airports increased 8.25 percent in the first half of 2011, compared to the same period a year earlier, the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority said Sunday.

The total number of flights in and out of the country reached 33.7 million up from 31 million the previous year, the authority said in an emailed statement, despite widespread political unrest that has stemmed tourism flows to parts of the Middle East.

June saw air traffic across the UAE increase 8.2 percent compared to June 2010 while average daily movements reached 1,876, the authority said.

The total number of flights to and from Dubai International Airport accounted for 44.4 percent of the country’s air travel, said GCAA.

The UAE, home to state-backed airlines Etihad and Emirates, is investing heavily in aviation as it seeks to become a global leader in aviation and passenger traffic.

Dubai’s ruler on July 6 approved a $7.8bn expansion plan for Dubai’s airports in a bid to become the world’s busiest travel hub. Dubai International Airport plans to boost capacity from 60 million travelers now to 75 million by 2012 and to 90 million by 2018, Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports, said last month.

But Griffiths warned that “yawning gaps” in airspace management were threatening to derail the city’s massive aviation growth plans – expected to be worth $45.4bn in economic activity by 2020.

“Airspace capacity constraints are a threat. The airspace is not currently configured to support this growth,” he said.

Dubai International Airport was the third busiest for international traffic in the first quarter of 2011 after London Heathrow and Hong Kong, according to the Airports Council International.

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