As many as 5.26 million passengers passed through Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2021, 46% of them (2.43 million) in the last three months of the year, Abu Dhabi Airports said.
Full year figures revealed that 5,262,376 passengers were served compared to 5,570,176 in 2020 representing a drop of 5.5% as the airport and the industry continued to experience dampened demand due to travel restrictions and eroded consumer confidence brought on by the global pandemic. The airport recorded 74,176 flights during the year compared to 61,034 in 2020, an increase of 21.5%.
“The sharp rise in passenger traffic during the last three months of the year is a clear indication that the recovery is underway and gaining momentum,” said Shareef Al Hashmi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports.
“While the Omicron variant may have a temporary effect on demand during the early part of 2022, we expect traffic to double at Abu Dhabi International this year to reach 10.7 million as vaccination programmes progress, government restrictions in markets around the world ease and consumer confidence rebounds,” the official said.
Abu Dhabi International’s network also expanded significantly during 2021 with 103 destinations now being served compared to 75 destinations in 2020.
The top five countries in terms of passenger volumes in 2021 were India (932,949), Pakistan (550,728), Egypt (446,883), United States (254,201) and KSA (244,954). The busiest destinations being served by AUH included Cairo (372,456), Islamabad (209,280), Delhi (197,012), Lahore (184,315) and Dhaka (182,983).
Notable during last year were the robust service scores recorded at Abu Dhabi International across a number of metrics including airport cleanliness (95%) and feeling safe and secure (95% each), happiness index (94%) and passenger health & wellness (92.9%).
The overall satisfaction score as measured by Airports Council International was 92%. Baggage service was similarly impressive as a total of 5,377,208 bags were processed through the airport’s baggage system in 2021, including 3,878,132 departure bags that had a delivery success rate of 99.8%.
“Our focus on health, safety and the wellbeing of AUH travellers significantly enhanced our passenger experience during the year as we launched a fully equipped PCR facility, touch less technology, self-baggage drop systems and smart queuing technology to prevent crowding during peak operations,” said Al Hashmi.
Cargo volumes up 31.8%
The 2021 figures for cargo volumes confirmed that Abu Dhabi International Airport handled 711,715 tonnes of freight in 2021, an increase of 31.8% compared to the 540,144 tonnes handled in 2020.
The surge in volumes was largely attributed to increases in shipments of general cargo and special products including express, temperature-controlled, vulnerable cargo and pharmaceuticals.
Mail volumes were also on the rise in 2021 with 8,767 tonnes moving through Abu Dhabi International’s cargo facility, an increase of 13.1% compared to the 7,749 tonnes handled in 2020.
Meanwhile, Ethad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of the Etihad Aviation Group, has achieved record revenue growth of 49% in 2021 as it continued to outperform expectations with a 27% year-on-year increase in freight carried, contributing towards 55% of the group’s revenue.
“Last year was a milestone year for Etihad Cargo,” said Martin Drew, SVP of Sales & Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group.
“The Etihad Cargo team has worked closer than ever with partners and customers to address their demands and allocate necessary capacity, resulting in a record tonnage of 729,200 tonnes – the highest since 2017.”
Etihad Cargo temporarily modified five Boeing 777 aircraft to support cabin-loaded cargo, operating more than 800 charter and scheduled cargo flights in the new configuration in 2021, adding capacity along key strategic routes.
By mid-2021, Etihad Cargo had announced the recovery of more than 90% of its network compared to pre-COVID-19. In total, the carrier operated more than 6,000 passenger freighters throughout the year, with freighter utilisation averaging 16.5 hours.