Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest hub for long-haul flights and home of Gulf giant Emirates, reported a 2.4 per cent decline in third quarter passenger traffic.
The airport handled 23.2 million passengers during the three months ending September 30, down from 22.6m in the prior-year period, operator Dubai Airports said. In the first nine months of the year, Dubai's main hub said it handled 64.5m travellers, also down 4.5 per cent year-on-year, blaming a 45-day runway closure and the ongoing grounding of Boeing's embattled 737 Max narrowbody jet.
"The slight contraction in year-to-date numbers is mainly the result of the closure of one of DXB’s two runways for 45 days for a runway rehabilitation project during May-April, as well as the impact of the worldwide grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft since March this year," Dubai Airports said.
Dubai is the hub for Emirates, which has used its position at a crossroads between Europe and Asia to develop an unparalleled network of intercontinental connections. On Thursday, Emirates' chairman said the airline "worked hard" to minimise the impact of the planned runway renovations at the airport on its business and its customers. Separately, the ban on Boeing's 737 Max following two crashes that killed 346 people has disrupted global airlines' operations, with Flydubai warning of pressure on its performance from the continued grounding.
Emirates, the biggest customer at the airport, said it carried fewer passengers in the six months to September 30.
The airline ferried 29.6 million passengers during the first half of its fiscal year, down two per cent, as the number of available seats reduced by five per cent during the runway closure earlier this year, it said on Thursday.
Cargo volumes at Dubai International Airport fell 5.9 per cent to 636,575 tonnes in the third quarter. In the nine months of this year, freight volumes also declined 4.1 per cent to 1.9m tonnes.
"A bulk of the cargo traffic at DXB is belly-hold which was impacted by reduction in capacity during the runway rehabilitation project," it said.
India remained DXB’s top destination country by passenger numbers, with traffic for the first nine months reaching 8.8 million customers, followed by Saudi Arabia with 4.8 million customers, and theUnited Kingdom with 4.6 million customers.
The top three cities were London, Mumbai and Riyadh.