Dubai Int'l runway closure leads to 2.9% drop in July passengers

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Passenger traffic at Dubai International fell by nearly three percent in July but remained above the five million mark for the 19th straight month, according to a new report released by its operator on Sunday.

Dubai Airports said passenger numbers slipped 2.9 percent to 5,155,771, from 5,310,361 passengers in July last year.

It said traffic was impacted by Dubai International being reduced to single runway for a period of 80 days from May 1 as the airport’s two runways were consecutively refurbished and upgraded. Both runways were reopened on July 21.

Passenger numbers rose to nearly 40 million in the first seven months of the year, climbing 4.9 percent to 39,831,861, up from 37,972,464 passengers recorded in the same period last year, Dubai Airports added. 

Regionally, Eastern Europe was the fastest growing region during July, with passenger numbers surging 17.6 percent, followed by North America (up 8.8 percent), South America (up 4.5 percent) and Western Europe (up 3.9 percent).

The Indian subcontinent and Middle East showed declines as a result of reduced flights during the runway works.

In July, Dubai International handled 25,081 aircraft movements, down 11.9 percent from 28,462 in the same month in 2013.

The declines were driven by the continued shift by home carrier Emirates airline’s to larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 – taking average passengers per movement during July to 211, up  5 percent from 201 at the same time last year.

A 26 percent reduction in the number of flight movements during the refurbishment programme also had an impact on the number of aircraft movements.

With all dedicated freighters moving to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central from May 1, both monthly and year-to-date cargo volumes at Dubai International registered a downturn.

In July, cargo volumes reached 184,720 tonnes, down 10.7 percent from the 206,945 tonnes achieved in the same month in 2013. Year to date cargo volumes reached 1,367,967 tonnes, down 3.1 percent from 1,411,896 tonnes recorded in the first seven months of 2013. 

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: “July was a story of two distinct halves. As anticipated, traffic continued to be impacted by the runway refurbishment programme in the first part of the month.

"But, crucially, July also marked the successful reopening of both Dubai International’s runways, just in time to accommodate the holiday rush in the last week of the month when we experienced some of the busiest days on record. We are back to business as usual at Dubai International.

“Looking forward, with two newly upgraded runways which are able to accommodate even more aircraft, the airport is well placed to resume the growth we saw in the first four months of the year.”

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