Strong gains in passenger traffic of 7% as air freight bounces back for February

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Montreal, 5 April 2012- Impressive gains were observed in passenger traffic across regions of the world for February 2012 with growth reaching 7 percent year over year. The emerging markets of the Middle East, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia Pacific witnessed buoyant traffic growth with each region posting increases of 10.9, 10.2 and 7.7 percent respectively. The Asian airports of Soekarno-Hatta, Jakarta (CGK), Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok (BKK) and Beijing (PEK) not only continue to be strong contributors to growth patterns for the region as a whole but are among the fastest growing high volume airports globally. The combined effect of rising demand for air travel and a strong demographic weighting have led airports such as CGK to experience exponential growth over the decade. The residual effects of political unrest on air traffic have now subsided in Northern Africa. The region as whole has increased by 25 percent as compared to the height of the Arab spring in February 2011.

While gains in air freight of 5.6 percent providing some optimism that trade in freight has revived from the previous woes of 2011, it should be viewed in the context of factors distorting or overstating actual growth rates. Many key high-volume freight airports in Asia had their shipments suspended due to Chinese holidays in February 2012. Both Hong Kong (HKG) and Pudong, Shanghai (PVG) experienced gains of 18.6 and 17.9 percent respectively. Growth is not necessarily uniform across regions. Europe as a whole decreased by -1.5 percent. The major airports of Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Frankfurt (FRA) and London Heathrow (LHR) each observed declines of -10.9, -8.9 and -2 percent respectively.

ACI World’s Economics Director Rafael Echevarne commented, “Although February traffic growth rates are overstated by certain events and weak traffic volumes in February 2011, particularly with respect to Africa, global passenger growth rates have been relatively consistent over time oscillating between 3 and 7 percent over the last 10 months. This is on-going evidence of a sustained rise in global demand for air travel over time. Irrespective of the impressive growth for February in some regions, air freight still holds an air of uncertainty. As many Eurozone countries continue to struggle with national solvency concerns, downside risk and adverse effects on Eurozone trading partners will continue to linger.”