Will UAE Aviation Industry Sail Through Drooping Passenger Traffic?

The year gone by led the UAE aviation industry to face unforeseen problems pushing airlines to manage survival at bare minimum revenues. Since a large section of the country’s economy is dependent upon tourism and oil exports, travel bans threw the Arab nation into an economic lag of 6.1 percent in 2020.

Despite its efforts to run fast inoculation drives and encourage people to practise Covid safety rules, the UAE aviation sector continues to deal with fears of prolonged losses and slower recovery for the tourism industry. This is largely due to several factors, ranging from UAE-UK travel ban, UAE-India travel ban, doubts over efficacy of Sinopharm vaccine and the country’s hold on Covid rules as wealthy people continue to flout them.

Firstly, the UK’s decision to keep UAE on its red list is likely to wreak havoc in the UAE aviation industry. Although an international transit hub, the UAE airport has to face humongous losses as many Brits planning trips to Emirates have cancelled plans to avoid costly quarantine obligations. The situation is specially challenging for Dubai Airports, who receive majority traffic from London.

As stated by Dubai Airports’ CEO Paul Griffiths, over 6 million people travelled across London-Dubai every year before Covid. Experts claim that not allowing direct flights between UAE-UK will prove to be more dangerous as travellers could consider dangerous transit spots.

Another factor that might affect the UAE aviation industry in future is the country’s use of Sinopharm vaccine. Many medical experts have raised concerns over the efficacy of the vaccine which is being widely used in the UAE. Some future travellers might consider travelling to UAE risky as the vaccine in use hasn’t yet been approved by the World Health Organisation. This will blow future revenues for the UAE aviation industry.

Meanwhile, rising Covid cases in India are becoming a matter of grave concern for the UAE aviation industry as Indian travellers and expats constitute major portion of tourists to the Middle East. Several UAE expatriate workers have complained to experience extreme levels of anxiety and helplessness as they are not able to visit their families in India.

UAE’s travel bans are somewhat unjust as they do not exempt health care professionals from travelling to India. As revealed by a Dubai-based doctor on account of anonymity, “My friend, who is an emergency nurse, was supposed to fly back on May 1. She is upset after hearing about the extension of the travel suspension”. Such accounts tarnish the well-known image of UAE’s aviation industry.

With such grave challenges in hand, the recovery of UAE’s aviation industry from Covid-induced losses might take much longer than expected. It remains to be seen if the airlines will soar across these challenges or sink within the Covid turmoil.

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