Dubai airports handled a record 51 million passengers in 2011, up eight percent on the previous year. But cargo volume fell 1.5 percent to 2.2 million tons as the global economy slowed down.
Many passengers use Dubai as a transit airport for onward destinations with the government-owned Emirates Airline offering the world’s largest longhaul flight network.
New A380 concourse
By the end of year Dubai International Airport will open a fourth terminal dedicated to A380s. Meanwhile, Emirates is adding longhaul routes from Dubai to Seattle, Dallas, Rio, Buenos Aires and Harare.
The continued expansion of the Emirates’ network and the arrival of A380 aircraft each month should ensure that Dubai Airports will grow again in 2012. Dubai’s low-cost airline flydubai is also growing rapidly, expanding the airport’s footprint to even smaller feeder destinations.
For local travelers this extra capacity has resulted in some spectacular seat sales with prices plunging to their lowest in a decade. This will be a great year for bargain travel via Dubai thanks to the capacity expansion at a time when global demand for air travel is weakening.
A possible regional hiatus over the Iranian oil embargo that starts in July is also a potential serious hazard for the local travel and tourism sector. Whether or not this is actually a danger to travelers it will surely be perceived as one. This action also threatens to push up oil prices in 2012, something that usually results in fuel surcharges and lower passenger numbers as well as impacting airline profitability. Certainly the Dubai aviation, airline and tourism sectors have some rougher turbulence to navigate through this year.
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