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  • 00:00Joining us now is Paul Griffith, the CEO of To Buy Airports. Paul, what were some of the biggest nuances to the one hundred and 27 percent pop in terms of demographics, the destination for us? Well, the biggest pop has been actually the shift towards Dubai as a destination. Hundred and nineteen percent up in December over the previous direct numbers. And so the shift between transfer traffic and direct point to point traffic has been dramatic. We've gone from 60 40 transfer versus point to point to exactly the other way round 40, 60 direct visitors to Dubai. And of course, the economic multiplication effect of that has been dramatic on the economy here in Dubai. So that's been one of the things. Other thing, of course, is we've hosted a number of different events, including the Qatar World Cup, where literally hundreds of thousands of people decided to come to Dubai as part of their attendance to the FIFA World Cup in November and December. So a number of events have boosted traffic to the to the airport. I wonder how much of it has to do with the Russia, because the Russians have indicated that exports are up about 71 percent to close to nine billion dollars exports to the United Arab Emirates. How big a shift have you seen in visitors from Russia? We've seen 100 percent growth in visitor numbers from Russia. So clearly that's been a very important contributor. But actually, the normal top countries that we see, India, KSA, U.K., Pakistan have all been strong performers. So the traditional makeup of the demographic of the traffic has remained unchanged. But we're seeing over 7 million passengers a month now, which is getting close to our pre pandemic levels. So there is room for optimism. The weakness I'm seeing in the data is around cargo. Could you just add a little bit of color for our global audience on on what's driving that weakness? I certainly can. I mean, the thing is, cargo, remember, has gone through a little bit of a transition because when we had to transport pharmaceutical supplies across the world with great urgency, a significant number of airlines converted a lot of passenger aircraft to cargo. So there was a massive surge. What we've seen now is the traditional return to barely hold cargo being the underpinning nature of the cargo business. So obviously, the amounts of cargo traffic has receded back to sort of normal levels we've seen in the longer term. Cargo is always a good bellwether of the economy globally. And so far, it's a bit difficult to extrapolate meaning from those numbers because of that huge shift in the strategy for carrying cargo, which we've seen return to normal. Now, London has been a very important connection for Dubai for many, many years with its ups and downs, whereas London standing in the world today, London, I think still stands fairly heavy in our numbers. It's the single largest, most populous city for travellers to and from Dubai. Three million actually during the course of last year. And that's actually up from 814 thousand in the previous year. So the star in our system and of course, the shortage of capacity in London is going to be a problem because as demand grows, what tends to happen is prices go up, not capacity. So slightly frustrating that the market is capped by the lack of infrastructure availability at London Heathrow in particular in terms of the infrastructure here. It's been getting busy people at the airports. I mean, you know, I went to Terminal 2 and it was sort of the shore there and I was flying business class and even in the lounge was no place to sit. Mean, is there more investment coming to expand there or maybe accelerate the move to the new airport? What's in the pipeline? Well, we are definitely going to be investing more in VIX. There is a needs to continue to invest in the growth of the passenger traffic as well as the service quality. We see ourselves in the hospitality business, not just the transportation business. And we want to provide in an increasingly competitive market, a very competitive service excellence in terms of the product offering we've got. So further investments in increasing both the flow rate through technology and the physical infrastructure is definitely on the agenda for discussion at the moment. How much of a budget allocated for that, would you say, compared to some of the other initiatives you've taken that it's large, sizeable? Would you say that's modest? Well, we are still evaluating the cost effectiveness of it all, but I think it will be quite a large investment because DAX B is entering its eighth year as the world's largest airports. We are absolutely intent to keep it that way and also make it not just the world's biggest, but the world's best. As you improve. Continue to improve on on a legacy of, yeah, surpassing expectations, let's put it that way. Where are we with the IPL? Because I love Dubai, government entities are currently in the crosshairs. There are quite a few have already gone IPO. This has not been a subject of the past. Now, I would argue that it's something that is under way in terms of consideration. Well, I think the thing is our figures speak for themselves, which shown strong growth even during the pandemic. And we've always been very positive in terms of our outlook. But of course, it's a Dubai government decision. It's not mine. So we'll have to wait and see what the Dubai government decides. So, yes, conversations are underway. It would be good to have those conversations, but clearly that's a subject for the Dubai government to consider. What about the operational costs? Are you being able to keep them in check? What is the kind of labor wage increase that you're having to deal with? Because inflation is on the minds of many CEOs around the world? Well, what we did during the pandemic is we entered into some quite novel agreements with partners to make sure that our workforce was fully prepared for what we felt was always going to be a very strong recovery. We've been able to maintain the motivation of our workforce. We had to reduce the numbers, obviously, and we're very aware of the costs of living inflation. So we have to do something to keep those loyal staff members that have delivered such excellent performance motivated and committed to being part of our future. So it's something that we are looking at right at this moment.

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