Passenger traffic ends the year on strong footing with a rise of 5% in December and for the year

To download the full report, click HERE

Montreal, 3 February 2012 – The international traveller is leading the global growth curve in passenger traffic since the stock of international passengers has risen by almost 7 percent year over year in December 2011. Overall passenger traffic posted gains of 5 percent for both the month of December and the entire year as compared to 2010. In contrast, growth in global freight was flat as compared to December 2010. Albeit, this is a positive indicator in the context of the last seven months where global freight posted consecutive year over year declines. For the year, air freight was down by -1 percent.

A glimpse into selected emerging market airports in 2011

A substantive contributor to global growth patterns in passenger traffic can be attributed to the Asian contingent of airports. With a combined total of over 200 million passengers annually, the Chinese airports of Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (PVG; SHA), Chengdu (CTU) and Shenzhen (SZX) have all experienced buoyant growth in 2011. Indonesia and India are other examples of airports that display properties of exponential growth in their passenger traffic. New Delhi (DEL) and Jakarta (CGK) both registered phenomenal growth rates for 2011 in the vicinity of +20 percent as compared to 2010. Brazilian airports are another major source fuelling the rise in passenger traffic growth. As the country capitalizes on its demographic asset, Rio de Janeiro (GIG) and São Paulo (GRU) each had robust growth of +25.7 percent and +10.7 percent respectively. Despite the financial risks and economic slowdown that has persisted in European economies, Europe as a whole recorded gains of close to 9 percent for 2011. While the month of April helped boost traffic figures due to the ash cloud that shutdown European airspace in April 2010, other sources of growth can be attributed to the emerging markets within Europe such as the growing economies of Turkey and Russia. Istanbul (IST) and Moscow, Sheremetyevo (SVO) airports both posted double digit gains of +16.3 percent and +16.7 percent respectively.

Air freight: A mixed picture in 2011

While air freight began the year in positive territory in 2011, a sustained decline in growth rates was apparent from the month of May and thereafter where growth only converged to zero percent in December 2011. While air freight declined by almost -1 percent globally in 2011, the results are mixed from region to region. While both Asia-Pacific and North America experienced declines of almost -2 percent, and with the Middle East facing a decline of almost -1 percent, the rest of the world saw gains in their respective regions. Remarkably, despite the economic woes stemming from the financial risk of default and austerity, the net result for major European airports participating in this report is a gain of almost +2 percent in the volume of air freight. While Africa and Latin America-Caribbean presently have less overall weighting on the trend in total global air freight, several economies within these two regions have been unfettered by the slowdowns in northern regions. In summary, Africa posted a gain of +10.6 percent and Latin America-Caribbean increased by +5.4 percent in 2011 as compared to the previous year.

ACI World’s Director of Economics Rafael Echevarne commented, “Based on our latest survey results of major airports globally, 2011 was another banner year for overall passenger growth in face of the myriad of global economic risks and environmental calamities. From a global perspective, the international traveller in 2011 appears to have been immune to these manifestations. Air freight, on the other hand, appeared to be more elastic or sensitive to the economic situation within countries and among trading partners. As governments slowly adopt the necessary austerity measures to deleverage their balance sheets, certain economies may experience an economic slowdown in the short run thereby having an impact on international trade. However, as business confidence resumes, so will global trade in air freight.”