Dubai traffic climbs 10pc

Gold glitters at Dubai Duty Free.

Dubai International Airport has recorded strong growth in the year 2001 despite the events of September 11 in the US which hit travel trade worldwide.

Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation said a total of 13.5 million passengers passed through the airport last year, a growth of 10 per cent over 2000. Cargo movement grew 9 per cent with total freight movement of 632,222.52 tonnes.

The department said passenger and cargo movement figures were close to the forecast of 14 million passengers and 650,000 tonnes of freight movement in 2001.

Aircraft movement sank into the red for the first time, registering at -5 per cent growth. It attributed this to the fact that more airlines were using larger aircraft.

Emirates, for example, which contributed 45 per cent of the passenger movement at the Dubai airport, had now phased out most of its Airbus 310, and 300 aircraft, said a spokesperson.

Out of the 37-strong fleet, Emirates now has only three A310 and one A300 aircraft (which will also be retired soon), the rest are all either Boeing 777s and Airbus 330s, which are both large-bodied aircraft. In fact, this year Emirates is scheduled to receive 11 new wide-bodied aircraft, including the new A 340-500.

Executive flights registered a total movement of 1,852. Al Majlis or the VIP Pavilion, the dedicated facility which provides passengers with personalised check-in, baggage, immigration and custom services, and used mainly by VIPs and private jet owners, witnessed a strong 24 per cent growth in revenue in 2001 compared to 2000.

The Al Majlis reported total revenue of Dh2 million ($544,500) in 2001 as compared to Dh1.4 million in 2000, the authorities said.

Total number of passengers using the facility stood at 6,200 in 2001, a growth of 9 per cent from 5,652 in 2000.

The number of airlines operating out of Dubai International Airport was 96, serving 137 destinations. This number is expected to go up with UPS and Air Mauritius starting flights in January and Emirates adding five new destinations in 2002.

Delta, Khalifa Airways and Indian Airlines started flights to Dubai during the past year.

Dubai Duty Free announced record annual sales of Dh888 million in 2001, representing an 11 per cent increase over sales in 2000. The year-end results are a welcome indicator for the retail sector as a whole and firmly places Dubai Duty Free among the top seven airport retail operations in the world in terms of turnover.

Dubai International Hotel in the Shaikh Rashid Terminal also saw "a phenomenal room occupancy rate of 106 per cent over the year. Highest occupancy was 135 per cent during the month of December".

Department of Civil Aviation president and Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: "2001 has been a good year for Dubai International Airport despite the impact of global event.

"In fact, we are close on track with the forecasts with passenger and freight movement and Dubai Duty Free had a record year with shopfloor sales consistently higher than the previous year.

"Airport operations have shown significant increase across all sectors and we aim to retain this trend in 2002.

"The opening of Shaikh Rashid Terminal marked a new high in passenger movement. We have had consistent growth - the year 2000 had a phenomenal growth of 14.6 per cent. With the increased capacity and excellent facilities offered by Shaikh Rashid Terminal, we expect this growth to continue and hence will be beginning our next phase of expansion in the first quarter of 2002."

The second phase of Dubai International Airport expansion programme was announced during the Dubai 2001 Aerospace Exhibition in November.

Dubai 2001 saw confirmed record order intake of $15.605 billion. According to exhibitors another $25 million worth of sales were concluded within days following the show.

At the airshow, the Department of Civil Aviation announced the construction of Terminal 3, Concourse 2 and Concourse 3 and also the launch of a $2.5 million campaign "The Cultural Voyage" on CNN to promote Dubai.

Dubai airport also gained considerable recognition in 2001. It collected five awards - World Travel Awards for Best Airport Middle East; Government Excellence Award for Special Recognition for Customer Satisfaction; Air Transport World Award for Outstanding Advertisement; Conde Nast Traveller Award for Best International Airport Worldwide; and Routes Marketing Awards for Best Airport Marketing.

All of these awards were bestowed on the basis of votes cast by customers. Internally, the department of civil aviation succeeded in acquiring ISO certifications for three key departments - engineering, public relations, and strategy & management excellence.

With new airlines coming in and Emirates adding five new destinations this year, it is expected that 15 million passengers will use the airport while Dubai Duty Free aims to reach a target of Dh1 billion.

Experts predict a steady growth in travel demands worldwide, with growth in the Middle East expected to average at 4.7 per cent annually.