Record air traffic in UAE on first day of Cop28

Controllers report 2,848 movements on November 30, the busiest day yet, aviation regulator says

DWC benefitted from a rise in private jet travel during Cop28, GCAA said. Photo: Dubai Airports
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The UAE skies hummed with record levels of air traffic on the opening day of Cop28, as tens of thousands of delegates from across the world arrived in Dubai for the summit.

The General Civil Aviation Authority told The National 2,848 air traffic movements were posted on November 30.

In the three days before Cop28 and the three days after it started, the number of scheduled and non-scheduled aircraft movements rose by 13 per cent, the civil aviation regulator said.

Non-scheduled movements represented 15 per cent of this traffic, it said.

“Cop28 traffic demand witnessed significant growth for private jet, and general aviation operations reached 15 per cent and remarkable demand for DWC airport,” the GCAA said.

The UN-run Blue Zone at Dubai's Expo City has had 97,000 people register as delegates – far more than the 70,000 expected.

Negotiators, campaigners and lobbyists have attended the conference’s Blue Zone, where the bulk of climate talks are taking place. The UN-administered Blue Zone is also the setting for climate protests.

More than 400,000 members of the public have applied for one-day passes for the Green Zone, which is hosting activities in conjunction with the conference.

Climate campaigners typically voice concerns about the emissions from private jets that government and business leaders use to fly to climate conferences and gatherings such as Davos.

The number of delegates at this Cop event in Dubai – nearly three times as many as the Cop 26 attendance in Glasgow and about four times more than the 2015 gathering that culminated in the Paris Agreement – underscores the importance of the climate agenda.

While the skies above Cop28 were busy with air traffic, hotels in Dubai have recorded a “noticeable jump” in occupancy rates, according to data by CoStar Group, the parent company of hotel analytics provider STR.

Dubai showed its highest December occupancy on the books for December 1 (43.7 per cent), and December 2 (44.2 per cent) – the second and third days of Cop28, CoStar data showed.

Compared to the same period in the previous year, the figures were lower, standing at 30.8 per cent and 29.4 per cent, respectively.

The emirate has hosted several events in the past few weeks that have attracted an influx of international visitors.

These include the Dubai Airshow on November 13, the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) on November 20 and the Cop28 UN climate summit on November 30.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 9:21 AM