With lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by governments all across the world during most part of the first quarter imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there has been a drop of one fifth in the passenger travel through Dubai International Airport, one of the largest travel hubs of the world, during the first quarter of the current year.
“Dubai Airports today confirmed that Dubai International recorded a total of 17.8 million customers during the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year contraction of 19.8%, a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic which dampened demand and reduced flight numbers,” a statement from Dubai Airports revealed. Dubai Airport is also the owner and manager of Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central Airports. DXB was ranked the largest hub kin the world in terms of passenger traffic in 2019.
There was a drop of 18.7 per cent year on year in aircraft movements during the quarter with a drop from 95,857 to 77,920 because of suspension of flights from coronavirus hotspots which started in February which was followed by a complete halt in passenger flights by the UAE government from March 24. Only emergency repatriation flights were allowed. Dubai Airports said that more than 50,000 people were able to return to their home countries in those exceptional flights that were arranged through UAE authorities and foreign embassies.
The economy of the emirate has been particularly hit by the steep plunge in traffic numbers. In 2017, 18.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Dubai was accounted for by revenues generated by the emirate’s transport and storage sector, which includes land, air and water transport but with major contributions from aviation. And according to the Dubai Statistics Center, the sector was the “most active driver” of its economy in the first half of 2019.
According to International Air Transport Association figures from 2019, about 13 per cent of the UAE’s GDP was accounted for by aviation and tourism country-wide. However other countries the region have also been hit by the pandemic as is being felt the world over. The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to get worse in the second quarter. There was a 90 per cent drop in global air traffic in April because of travel restrictions globally, according to a research report by PVM Oil Associates.
There was a 16.8 per cent year on year drop in the cargo tonnage for Dubai Airports during the quarter, the company said, which reflected a reduction in hold capacity. But there has actually been a surge in the cargo operations at the DXB, which are exempt from the ban. The company said that about a dozen airlines including Emirates SkyCargo and flydubai “have been given permission to operate an average of 110 flights weekly in response to heightened demand for pharmaceuticals, food, and other essential goods,” said a press release form the company.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)