The air journey industry is “not quite out of the woods” — but the future may very well be brighter than the final 20 months, says Paul Griffiths, the chief govt of Dubai Airports.
“We have room for optimism that the future, hopefully, is a lot brighter than the final 20 months,” he instructed CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Sunday at the Dubai Air Show, the first major international air show since the Covid pandemic began.
The metropolis’s airports have seen 20.7 million passengers this 12 months, a “far cry” from pre-pandemic ranges, which can solely be achieved in 2025, he mentioned.
But there are signs of restoration as the world relaxes restrictions and main worldwide site visitors flows begin up once more, he mentioned. Traffic numbers at Dubai International grew 40% in the final six weeks, he added.
Dubai Airports owns and manages Dubai International and Dubai World Central Airports in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai International alone served 86.four million prospects in 2019.
By the finish of this 12 months, Griffiths expects Dubai Airports to see 26.7 million passengers. That determine might leap to 56 million or 57 million in 2022, he mentioned.
The CEO mentioned he is cautiously optimistic that passenger numbers may very well be even higher.
“I do hope that there is a case for barely extra optimistic forecasts, but we’re in unknown territory,” he mentioned.
Dubai International is “very aggressively” getting again to regular operations after a interval of “hibernation,” he instructed CNBC. “We’re very optimistic that we are going to lead the restoration and the world might be touring once more very shortly.”
Asked about the greatest threats to air journey restoration, Griffiths mentioned the danger of a surge in Covid infections resulting in lockdowns is a “huge drawback.”
Just this weekend, the Netherlands returned to a partial lockdown as soaring Covid cases stretched capacity at hospitals.
Griffiths added that many individuals possible would not have the confidence to journey as a result of of strict laws, costly Covid testing protocols and the worry of guidelines altering rapidly.
“The final thing you wish to do is embark on a journey after which get caught someplace having to quarantine,” he mentioned, although he acknowledged that that is much less of a danger now.
The financial scenario — whether or not folks have the disposable earnings to go on journeys the manner they used to — is one other issue that may have an effect on the restoration of the aviation sector, he mentioned, but added that he is “pretty assured” about the demand.
“If airways and airports reply with a high quality product, and good worth for cash, folks are so determined to get again in the air once more, they’ll reply,” he mentioned. “We’re beginning to see the inexperienced shoots of that already.”