Reopening of flights to boost UAE-India trade ahead of Expo

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Reopening of flights to boost UAE-India trade ahead of Expo
The Dubai Expo 2020 logo is seen at the entrance of the main site in Dubai. Dubai Airports has projected robust growth for Dubai International (DXB) in the second half of the year largely to the Expo 2020 Dubai and the resumption of flights from countries such as India.Courtesy: Getty Images

India continued to be Dubai Airport's top destination country by traffic volume in the first half of 2021. Pent-up demand has resulted in massive bookings in the India-UAE corridor.

The world's busiest airport just got a further boost to its potential footfall over the next few months as the UAE eased flight rules from India last week ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai - allowing thousands of Indians to resume travel that was halted for months.

With Dubai International Airport clocking 10.6 million passengers in the first six months of 2021, Dubai Airports projected robust growth for Dubai International (DXB) in the second half of the year - thanks largely to the Expo 2020 Dubai and the resumption of flights from countries such as India.

A view of Dubai International Airport concourse and the Sheikh Rashid Terminal shopping. DXB remains the world's busiest airport for international passengers after retaining the title for the seventh consecutive year for annual traffic in 2020.
A view of Dubai International Airport concourse and the Sheikh Rashid Terminal shopping. DXB remains the world's busiest airport for international passengers after retaining the title for the seventh consecutive year for annual traffic in 2020.Courtesy: Getty Images

Top destination

Indeed, India continued to be Dubai International Airport's top destination country by traffic volume in the first half of 2021 with passenger numbers exceeding 1.9 million, despite travel restrictions due to COVID-19 affecting its key source markets. "We have already witnessed some of our busiest weekends of the year in July, and with major international events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and Dubai Airshow 2021 lined up for the months ahead, the outlook for 2021 in terms of passenger numbers looks very promising," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

According to the latest figures issued by Airports Council International (ACI), DXB remains the world's busiest airport for international passengers after retaining the title for the seventh consecutive year for annual traffic in 2020. The airport holds a significant lead over other international airports and has nearly twice the passenger traffic of the next busiest global hub in the Middle East.

Travel agents in India and the UAE noted this week that pent-up demand has resulted in massive bookings in the India-UAE corridor. "We have seen a surge in demand from people wanting to travel. From 60-70 per cent capacity, we are reaching 90 to 100 percent occupancy. We didn’t see full capacity even during the Eid Al Adha holidays. Now people are reassured that they can return to the UAE,” one Abu Dhabi-based agent told Khaleej Times in the UAE.

Ready for Expo 2020 Dubai

The reopening of the flight corridor amid the coronavirus pandemic comes at a significant juncture for both the UAE and India. The latter's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai is one of the foundations of the mammoth event - and India has spent more than $70 million on its pavilion already.

Gold jewellery, diamonds, vehicles, telecoms, and petroleum oils form the core of the trade ties between India and Dubai. The volume of external trade from Dubai with India reached Dh67 billion in the first half of 2021 alone.
Gold jewellery, diamonds, vehicles, telecoms, and petroleum oils form the core of the trade ties between India and Dubai. The volume of external trade from Dubai with India reached Dh67 billion in the first half of 2021 alone.Courtesy: Getty Images

The reopening also comes as Dubai's volume of external trade with India reached Dh67 billion in the first half of 2021 alone - across gold jewellery, diamonds, vehicles, telecoms, and petroleum oils - compared to Dh89 billion in 2020.

“This reflects the weight and significance of Dubai as a global hub for trade and tourism relying on its advanced logistics and customs infrastructure,” said Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director-General of Dubai Customs, during his meeting with K. Kalimutu, Indian Consul General for Trade and Economy to Dubai.
The two sides discussed means of cooperation benefiting from projects and initiatives launched by Dubai to boost its relationships with the diplomatic missions and strategic trade partners. These initiatives included Ertebat, which aims to enhance ties and coordination with the diplomatic missions in order to augment the emirate’s external trade. During the meeting, the parties agreed to benchmark between Dubai Customs and the Customs of India to find the best practices applied and exchange expertise and knowledge.

We have already witnessed some of our busiest weekends of the year in July, and with major international events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and Dubai Airshow 2021 lined up for the months ahead, the outlook for 2021 in terms of passenger numbers looks very promising.
- Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports

According to Musabih, trade with India is gaining more weight and importance in the coming period due to the growing role India plays in the global trade stage, especially in this period in which the UAE is proceeding to achieve its bold initiatives, including the UAE Centennial Plan 2071.

“We work hard to deliver the best services and facilities to all the participants in Expo 2020 Dubai to help in the global economy's recovery. We highlighted our initiatives in this regard to our Indian strategic partners. These include the exclusive Expo Smart Channel, and the Expo Customs Office, which Dubai Customs dedicated to participants in this global grand event.”

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