Dubai International growth continues despite April’s volcanic disruption

Dubai, UAE The volcanic ash cloud that grounded flights around the world for six days last month had a minimal impact on growth at Dubai International as April passenger numbers rose 13.9 per cent from 3,289,037 to 3,745,016 and cargo volumes increased 19.6% per cent from 149,169 tonnes to 178,357 tonnes versus the same period last year.

The year to date passenger traffic increased 18.7 per cent to 15,215,536, while cargo grew by 24.6 per cent to 715,628 tonnes compared to April 2009.

“To record double-digit growth during a month where over 500 flights were cancelled is impressive,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports. “It’s testament to the great job airlines did to clear the backlog after the skies opened up. And it’s a clear indication that our confidence in the continued growth at Dubai International is well placed.”

The volcanic ash cloud and resulting airspace closures in Europe that occurred April 15-21 caused over 100,000 flight cancellations worldwide and prevented 10 million passengers from flying according to a report issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). At Dubai International, timely communication and airline re-routing minimised the impact to just over 500 flight cancellations stranding some 6,000 passengers, the large majority of whom were comfortably accommodated in hotels around the city. Following the disruptions, 46 additional flights were operated to transport stranded passengers and cargo to their final destinations and effectively clear the backlog in the shortest possible time.

The disruptions led to some variations in traffic flows. Strong growth was seen in all regions with the exception of Western Europe where passenger numbers grew by just 1% during April versus the monthly double-digit growth that had been recorded during the six previous months. Similarly, London was ousted by Doha, albeit temporarily, from its position as the top destination in terms of traffic as passenger numbers between Dubai and the UK capital plummeted 20% due to flight cancellations.

“So far we are outpacing our projections for 13.6 per cent growth during 2010,” said Griffiths. “And with the addition of a number of new destinations and services in the months ahead we are cementing our status as a leading international hub.”

According to Airport Council International’s (ACI) latest ranking, Dubai International has for the first time climbed to the third position on the list of world’s busiest airports in terms of both passenger numbers and cargo traffic.