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Sun 24 Jul 2011 04:45 PM

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UAE air traffic jumps in H1 despite Arab Spring

Total number of flights in and out of the country reaches 3.3 million, says aviation authority

UAE air traffic jumps in H1 despite Arab Spring
Dubai International Airport plans to be the worlds busiest by 2015

Traffic across the UAE’s six airports increased 8.25 percent
in the first half of 2011, compared to the same period a year earlier, the
country’s General Civil Aviation Authority said Sunday. 

The total number of flights in and out of the country
reached 33.7 million up from 31 million the previous year, the authority said
in an emailed statement, despite widespread political unrest that has stemmed
tourism flows to parts of the Middle East.

June saw air traffic across the UAE increase 8.2 percent
compared to June 2010 while average daily movements reached 1,876, the
authority said.

The total number of flights to and from Dubai International
Airport accounted for 44.4 percent of the country’s air travel, said GCAA.

The UAE, home to state-backed airlines Etihad and Emirates,
is investing heavily in aviation as it seeks to become a global leader in
aviation and passenger traffic.

Dubai’s ruler on July 6 approved a $7.8bn expansion plan for
Dubai’s airports in a bid to become the world’s busiest travel hub. Dubai
International Airport plans to boost capacity from 60 million travelers now to
75 million by 2012 and to 90 million by 2018, Paul Griffiths, chief executive
officer of Dubai Airports, said last month.

But Griffiths warned that “yawning gaps” in airspace
management were threatening to derail the city’s massive aviation growth plans –
expected to be worth $45.4bn in economic activity by 2020.

“Airspace capacity constraints are a threat. The airspace is
not currently configured to support this growth,” he said.

Dubai International Airport was the third busiest for
international traffic in the first quarter of 2011 after London Heathrow and
Hong Kong, according to the Airports Council International. 

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