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Saudi traffic drives Dubai Airports’ recovery post pandemic, says CEO   

December 5, 2022
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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia played an important role in the Dubai Airports' recovery post the pandemic as the Kingdom drove significant traffic growth between the two countries, according to the airport’s top official.

Saudi Arabia accounts for 18 percent of Dubai Airports' total traffic, CEO of the airport Paul Griffiths revealed in an exclusive interview with Arab News, adding that most of the growth since the pandemic has been between the two countries.

He added: “With more and more airports opening direct services between Dubai and Saudi Arabia, I think the prospects for further growth are still considerable.”

Dubai Airports has gone through several transitional stages during the management of the pandemic, according to Griffiths.

Highlighting some of the challenges that the airport faced, he pointed out that the key was to get people to recover and actually travel again while assuring them of their health and safety. Also, it was important to assure them that the rules for travel are going to be consistent. The CEO explained that this applies to complying with all their health regulations including being tested and vaccinated.

But now, he said, they have a new challenge which is the “resource challenge.” “The challenge is to get everyone re-engaged to make the whole commerce of the world function professionally again. So that has been very difficult over the past few months in particular,” Griffiths added.

Despite this, Dubai in particular has recorded a strong recovery in the post-pandemic period.

He explained this comes as the emirate was able to swiftly get people back into jobs and train them in an attempt to function quickly while, at the same time, other parts of the world were still challenged in providing the appropriate level of resources needed for the operational requirements that they have.

Dubai Airports, in specific, is 100 percent back to the number of people in the right jobs required, according to Griffiths. Moreover, he added that point-to-point traffic numbers to the city were 119 percent over and above pre-pandemic levels in December 2021, reflecting very strong traffic recovery.

“We have virtually doubled the amount of traffic. We are going to end the year with about 68.2 million. We have revised our forecast several times in the opposite direction and the prospects are actually now very good,” he revealed.

As of today, an estimated 6 million travelers are currently coming through Dubai Airports on a monthly basis. The CEO said this figure is expected to further rise and potentially reach the 7.8 million recorded before COVID-19.

Dubai’s added value is mainly attributed to the high investment in the emirate as well as its geographic location, according to Griffiths.

As a result of high investment in the emirate, he said the number of people that now want to come and visit Dubai increases year on year, usually, in double digits.

Highlighting the emirate’s unique geographic location, he pointed out that Dubai is within four hours flying time of a third of the world’s population and within eight hours flying time of two-thirds of the world’s population.

Speaking on technology and its continuous development, the CEO stressed that airport experiences will be much quicker and more seamless in the future.

“I think we’ll remove a lot of the processes we go through, like immigration and security. That’s not to say they won’t be there, but we just won’t see them because they’ll be done behind the scenes,” he explained.

Dubai Airports has become a primary international airport in the world, with it being ranked the largest airport by international passenger traffic for the past six to seven years, he concluded.

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