Lasting passenger growth at 3% as air freight stays in negative territory for seventh month

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Montréal, 09 January 2011 – Both international and domestic passenger traffic show resilient growth at 3 percent year over year in November 2011. Notwithstanding, with consumer and business confidence deteriorating in the major economies of Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America, this has abetted the continued decline in global air freight by almost -2 percent. 

Latin America and the Caribbean posted strong passenger growth rate at +8.9 percent. While international passenger traffic fared quite well at +7.8 percent, domestic traffic reported impressive gains of over +10 percent. Brazil and Mexico continue to be regional leaders in terms of the sheer volume of traffic and growth. Airports such as Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Mexico City (MEX) and São Paulo (GRU) each saw gains of +22.8, +20.1 and +19.6 percent respectively. While Buenos Aires (AEP) saw great gains at +923.3 percent, this is attributable to the fact that the airport was closed for renovations in November 2010. Healthy domestic demand is also observed in Asia-Pacific where growth in domestic traffic is at +6  percent. New Delhi (DEL) and Beijing (PEK) have observed year over year growth rates of +31 percent and +7.1 percent respectively in domestic traffic. The Middle East displayed robust growth in international passenger traffic at +8.2 percent. Abu Dhabi (AUH), Riyadh (RUH) and Dubai (DXB) are among the high growth airports in the region at +16.2 and +16 percent respectively. Europe continues to see more moderate growth at +2.5 percent as compared to the emerging markets. Istanbul (IST) and Moscow (SVO) continue to fuel growth in the region with overall passenger growth of over +18 percent. North American airports saw generally limited growth in passenger traffic at less than +1 percent. While superior growth was observed in international traffic, domestic traffic is flatter at +0.7 percent. With the remnants of political unrest in North Africa, continental Africa continues to feel the brunt of decreased tourism and travel. The major Egyptian airports of Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Cairo (CAI) and Hurghada (HRG) each saw sharp declines in passenger traffic at -25.9, -24.5 and -14.3 percent respectively.

Air freight is continuing to be sidelined for the seventh consecutive month with an overall year over year decline of -1.6 percent. However, significant variation is observed across the regions. Many airports in the southern hemisphere are performing well in terms of freight growth whereas the northern airports of Asia and Europe are seeing year over year declines in air freight. Despite the volatility in air freight traffic across the African continent, it has posted overall gains of over +27 percent. A significant contributor to the growth in freight traffic is attributable to the burgeoning economies of Southern Africa. Johannesburg (JNB) posted robust gains of +46.9 percent. On the other side of the Atlantic, double digit gains are observed at key Brazilian airports, which face strong domestic demand and on-going expansion of their existing airport facilities. Brasilia (BSB), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), São Paulo (GRU) and Manaus  (MAO) saw gains of +597.5, +40.6, +39.4 and +9.4 percent respectively. The Middle East saw modest gains with overall growth reaching +2.7 percent. North American airports have seen relatively flat growth in air freight as compared to November 2010. While the major freight airports such Anchorage (ANC) and Memphis (MEM) have bounced back relative to previous months (+25 and +7.3 percent respectively), other major airports have experienced sharp declines in air freight. Newark (EWR), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Atlanta (ATL) all experienced significant declines at -15.7, -9.7, -9.1, -4.8 percent respectively. Asia-Pacific saw overall declines of -3.2 percent with major exporting regions of China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan facing even greater declines as compared to the region as a whole. Taipei (TPE), Incheon (ICN), Hong Kong (HKG) and Shanghai (PVG) declined by -10.6, -8.2, -6.6 and -4 percent respectively. The situation is particular grave for Europe, where the looming debt crisis has stifled commerce. Air freight for the region has declined by -3.9 percent. Among the major airports in the region, declines were observed in Frankfurt (FRA; -11.4 percent), Amsterdam (AMS; -5.9 percent) and London (LHR; -4.1 percent).

ACI World’s Economics Director Rafael Echevarne commented, “While growth in passenger traffic will be in the vicinity of 5 percent for 2011, indicative of a healthy global passenger market, we may see passenger traffic for 2012 curtailed for certain economies that are teetering towards a recession. Air freight also seems to have a mixed picture. Despite the overall slowdown in global air freight in Asia-Pacific and Europe, key trading blocks in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East seem to be less affected by the continuing economic risks in the Euro area. If the structural problems and the debt crises have been fully resolved, we are likely to see stronger footing in air freight traffic as business confidence is restored.”