Dubai: Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said the current COVID-19 testing regime will “become history” shortly and it will be followed by strong recovery.
“I think the thing is, once the testing regime becomes history, which I think it will do shortly, what we believe is going to happen is there will be a very strong recovery. And we need governments to stop interfering with the common-sense health regulations that are now emerging in the wake of the response to the latest strains of the virus,” said Griffiths during an interview with CNN.
Dubai International (DXB) has raised its 2022 passenger forecasts from the current 57 million as governments worldwide lift COVID-19 travel restrictions. Over the last few months, DXB and UAE’s airlines have benefited from the reopening of international borders, but the Omicron variant has dampened the mood.
“I think the pessimism of the uncertainty that we’ve been facing has to give way to the opportunistic, and optimism of recovery that we’re going to follow, and the good thing is, we never really shut anything down,” said Griffiths. “We put things into hibernation, but we maintained a full state of readiness in order to be able to springboard back into the real world when traffic starts to recover.”
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The aviation head said that passenger numbers into Dubai had exceeded pre-COVID levels in the weeks before Christmas. “We’ve seen 40 per cent growth over a six-week period just before the Christmas peak. On a point-to-point basis, visitors to Dubai through the airport were at 111 percent of what they were pre-COVID.”
An estimated two million passengers were expected to pass through DXB between December 29, 2021 and January 8, 2022 with average daily traffic exceeding 178,000 travellers. The airport retained its position as the world’s busiest in December, with over one million more seats than the next busiest, London Heathrow, according to aviation consultancy OAG.
“The good thing is you see, having built confidence in Dubai as a destination, the actual multiplier effects of the origin and destination traffic to the economy is hugely valuable, but now what’s happened because of that attractiveness, when the transfer markets come back, we will be in an incredibly strong position to resume our pre-eminence with the sixth freedom as well as this point-to-point market,” said Griffiths.