Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Dubai International airport held on March 27 the official opening of five new smoking lounges spread across all three terminals in an exclusive partnership between the supplier and the airport. The total space covers more than 600sq m, with terminal one offering the largest such room worldwide, a 250sq m luxury lounge, and the other three occupying a total of slightly more than 350sq m. Terminals one and three have two lounges each and the final one is in T2.
JTI now has more than 300 airport smoking facilities worldwide equipped with ventilation technology and this number will continue to grow, expanding into new regions and airports, according to general manager worldwide duty-free president David Francis.
“Nowadays more than 20% of adult passengers are smokers and their choice of airports is being influenced by the existence of smoking facilities. Providing these travellers with state-of-the-art smoking lounges is cleafrly a competitive advantage for the airports and JTI is ready to partner with them in creating spaces that allow them to smoke while respecting the rights of non-smokers,” he said.
He added that the facilities would encourage smokers to shop by encouraging them to come to the airport sooner rather than leaving it to the last moment after having a last cigarette outside the airport.
Dubai Duty Free managing director Colm McLoughlin told DFNIonline: “I think any decent airport should be developing to cater for everybody. Some 25% of the people who come through this airport are smokers and I think it is right they are treated properly. For a long time we have seen smoking rooms in very non-smoking countries like the US. There are very decent smoking rooms in Atlanta, and in Singapore there is a gorgeous garden and travellers can smoke there.
“There have been a number of smoking rooms in Dubai for a number of years but they have been very restrictive,” he concluded.
Since launching the smoking lounge concept in 2003 JTI has opened lounges at 21 airports handling more than 300m passengers.
Dubai International airport’s monthly passenger traffic exceeded 4.5m for the second consecutive month this year. Passenger traffic grew by 19% in February—a 16-month high—to reach 4,561,147 passengers compared with 3,831,385 recorded in the same month in 2011.