DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Dubai International Airport would welcome a call from the Trump administration on ways to improve American airports, the CEO of the Mideast hub said on Tuesday as it retained the title of the world’s busiest for international travel.
Paul Griffiths said the Dubai airport, the home of long-haul carrier Emirates and often lauded by U.S. President Donald Trump during his campaign, saw 83.6 million passengers in 2016.
The figure fell short of Griffiths’ earlier estimates of 85 million passengers for 2016 - something he blamed on the economic, political and terror-related turmoil of the past year.
“We know that the global economy has slowed a little bit and the propensity for travel has dropped, but I think that 2016 was quite an unparalleled year,” Griffiths told The Associated Press. “Fortunately, our numbers are still holding up.”
Dubai International Airport first surpassed London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international traffic in 2014. It has maintained the title ever since, with more than 90 airlines flying into skyscraper-studded Dubai, a gateway for East-West travel.
That rapid growth has angered U.S. carriers, which allege Emirates, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Qatar Airways receive unfair government subsidies. The three Gulf airlines repeatedly have denied the allegations.
Asked about Trump’s protectionist stance, Griffiths said it would hurt consumers the worst.
“The result of that is reduced choice for the consumer and higher prices,” he said.
He added that the Dubai airport would welcome any discussions with U.S. officials about how to improve their airports.
“If America and President Trump would like some of the expertise from Dubai, I’m sure we’d be pleased to assist.” Griffiths said.
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