Dubai Airport passenger traffic held down by Middle East/North Africa troubles, air fares mixed

Dubai Airport reported a solid increase in passenger numbers in Feb-2011, but was not unscathed by regional uncertainty. The reductions were however minimised thanks to Dubai's highly diversified network and carrier base. But air fare trends are mixed, reflecting the troubles and opportunities in its significant portfolio of city pairs.

Dubai now serves 176 destinations as a tourist, business and transit hub, according to OAG. London is the airport's biggest destination, accounting for 5% of total weekly seats, followed by Doha and Kuwait.

Dubai's top destinations: seats per week*

Rank Destination Seats
per week
% of total
1 London 31,552 5.0%
2 Doha 28,242 4.4%
3 Kuwait 25,420 4.0%
4 Muscat 17,210 2.7%
5 Mumbai 17,083 2.7%
6 Bahrain 15,674 2.5%
7 Delhi 14,075 2.2%
8 Karachi 13,869 2.2%
9 Tehran 13,423 2.1%
10 Bangkok 12,838 2.0%

Economy fares on the London Heathrow route have trended upwards since mid-March, with the 30-day moving average of cheapest available fares edging above the USD1,000 barrier in recent weeks. Click here for more fares data for Dubai Airport.

Return economy fares from Dubai to Heathrow: Sep-2010 to May-2011

But business fares to Heathrow have eased lately, possibly signaling a weakening of the all-important premium travel market.

Return business fares from Dubai to Heathrow: Sep-2010 to May-2011

Economy fares on the Doha route have also risen in recent months.

Return economy fares from Dubai to Doha: Sep-2010 to May-2011

Business fares on the important Dubai-Doha sector are also trending higher.

Return business fares from Dubai to Doha: Sep-2010 to May-2011

Hit by crisis in Middle East/North Africa

Dubai's passenger numbers rose 5.2% in Feb-2011 to 3.8 million. (By contrast, Singapore Changi Airport reported passenger numbers rose 9.1% year-on-year in Feb-2011 to 3.39 million).

Passenger totals on Middle Eastern routes dropped by 33,036 in the month and the airport reported a 28,395 decline in passenger traffic to Africa, as traffic was affected by political unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain. Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths, stated, “Dubai International continues to achieve consistent growth even during a period of global turbulence which is affecting the travel plans of millions of people”.

Economy fares have dropped lately to two of the trouble spots, Bahrain and Cairo, reflecting weaker demand.

Return economy fares from Dubai to Bahrain: Sep-2010 to May-2011

Bahrain.jpg.png" alt="" width="600" height="388" />

Return economy fares from Dubai to Cairo: Sep-2010 to May-2011

Cairo.jpg.png" alt="" width="600" height="388" />

Cargo traffic down due to timing of Chinese New Year

Dubai’s cargo throughout slumped 9% to 156,259 tonnes (reflecting a decline in traffic from Asia, particularly from China due to the Chinese New Year holidays, as well as by limited flight disruptions in the Middle East. (Changi reported a 1.9% fall in cargo in Feb-2011).

Meanwhile, Dubai’s aircraft movements surged by 7.2% to 24,646, reflecting weaker load factors and/or smaller aircraft gauges.

Want More Analysis Like This?

CAPA Membership provides access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find Out More