Dubai Airports sees passenger traffic rise 14.8%

Air travel to the Emirates continues to soar as Dubai Airports reports strong growth in its numbers, according to the lately monthly figures.

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Dubai Airports has seen no slowdown in the booming growth of the UAE's air travel industry, registering a strong increase in traffic last month over October last year.

Passenger traffic rose 14.8 per cent to more than 4 million, while air freight volumes grew to 202,984 tonnes, an increase of 9.2 per cent compared with October last year.

"That monthly total will soon become the norm," the airport operator said.

Kareem Murad, an aviation analyst at Shuaa Capital, said the increase in traffic came as new budget airlines such as flydubai and Air Arabia staked a claim to a larger share of Middle East air travel, putting downward pressure on ticket prices and increasing passenger levels.

"I'm not shocked by the numbers," Mr Murad said. "With the economy progressing, you're seeing more of that business travelling. This is a country with a huge population of expatriates and that traffic is really substantial."

But profit per passenger was declining for airlines across the Gulf, meaning extra traffic to generate higher revenue would be crucial to the carriers' profitability.

"Where the problem lies is that you've got the main component of your costs, fuel prices, going up. Today they're at $83.73 a barrel," Mr Murad said, citing an oil spot price from yesterday afternoon.

The fastest growing area for traffic was eastern Europe, where the number of passengers on routes to and from the region increased 306 per cent. Routes to and from western Europe accounted for the largest increase in total passenger traffic, adding 103,695 travellers last month compared with October last year.

"Growth will be driven by a projected 10 per cent increase in Emirates [Airline] passenger numbers and an anticipated doubling of flydubai traffic in 2011 as both airlines continue to expand their respective fleets and networks," Dubai Airports said.

The company also expects "modest" growth of 4.8 per cent in cargo traffic to 2.2 million tonnes next year.

"Dubai's aviation industry is thriving due to its liberal aviation policies, tax-free environment, geo-centric location, as well as its willingness to invest in top-flight infrastructure," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. "It is a formula that clearly works."

Dubai International Airport's capacity is to be boosted by the completion of Concourse 3, which is to be dedicated to Airbus A380 superjumbos.

The concourse will expand the airport's passenger capacity by 15 million a year and is scheduled to be completed next year.