When global lockdowns are lifted and vaccine campaigns are effectively concluded, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths forecasts a “tornado of travel demand.”
Griffiths, who was a panelist at the Dubai Global Events Re-opening Forum, expressed confidence in a fast return to growth.
Last year, Dubai International Airport saw a 70% drop in traffic when flights were canceled and borders were locked in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In 2020, the number of passengers traveling through the Middle East’s tourism center declined to 25.9 million, including 17.8 million in the first quarter of the year.
“I feel there are some very good signs that developments will change very rapidly within the next few weeks,” Griffiths said.
“We may have noticed that we’ve remained in this very stagnant situation for a long time, but I’m getting the feeling that the progress we’re seeing in vaccines here in the UAE, as well as the progress being made in the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom, gives us optimism that life can begin to return to a semblance of normalcy.
“And I believe it would be akin to a breakdown, and as soon as it is possible to fly and recover the social and economic mobility that we’ve all craved for so long, it will be like a torrent. There will not be a steady return; instead, there will be a flood, when 4 billion citizens across the world that have been under some kind of lockdown for the past year, can travel again.
“We’re expecting a big comeback, and I’d be thankful for the good leadership and cross-sector cooperation that has helped us survive the pandemic maybe better than any other country.”
Countries that “dithered with their decision-making, paid the price,” according to the airport president, unlike Dubai and the UAE.