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Expectations are sky high after the robust growth witnessed by the main airports in the UAE in 2013. According to experts, the aviation industry currently contributes around 12 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP). But going by the positive trends, 15 per cent of UAE’s GDP will be dependent on this sector by 2016.
Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport exceeded that of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport and Frankfurt Airport in 2013, and is shortly expected to surpass London’s Heathrow Airport to become the world’s busiest airport. Positive trade sentiments and the upturn in the tourism sector saw the number of passengers passing through Dubai totaling 66.4 million in 2013, an increase of 15.2 per cent. Last year, Heathrow’s traffic increased by 3.4 per cent to 72.3 million people.
Dubai’s main airport is being expanded to be able to serve 90 million travelers per year. Even cargo volumes at the Dubai International Airport hit a record in 2013, rising 6.8 per cent to 2.44 million tons. Dubai’s second airport, the Al Maktoum International Airport designed to serve 150 million people, is expected to get busier when runaways at the Dubai International Airport will be closed for repair later this year.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi International Airport reported a 12.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic for 2013 to 16.5 million passengers. The airport has also chalked out an ambitious expansion plan to handle 30 million passengers annually by 2017.
The Abu Dhabi airport also has the region’s first United States pre-clearance customs checkpoint. The post, manned by US customs officials, enables passengers to skip long queues on arrival in the US by clearing them for immigration prior to departing from Abu Dhabi. A similar facility is likely to be provided to passengers travelling from Dubai who are flying via Emirates Airlines.
• Abu Dhabi airport had a 12.4% rise in passenger traffic in 2013
• Passengers passing through Dubai totaled 66.4 million in 2013
• Al Maktoum International Airport designed to serve 150 million
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer