Global pax numbers pass 5bn for first time

By Doug Newhouse |

ACI World reports that global air passenger numbers passed the 5bn threshold for the first time in 2010, with preliminary results showing a 6.3% overall increase. Even better news was that all regions were in positive territory in terms of international traffic which rose by 7.5% to 1.9bn (1,936,557,190). International passengers in Europe rose by 4.5% to 1bn, followed by Asia Pacific with 429.4m (+14.2%); North America 197m (+5.7%); The Middle East 111m (+12.1%); Latin America and The Caribbean 108m (+8.3%); and Africa 84.7m (+10.4%).

ACI World reports that the results – from over 900 airports worldwide – indicate that global passenger traffic grew at a better than expected rate of 6.3%, while cargo rose strongly by 15.2%, as compared to 2009. 

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “2010 underscored the resilience of the air transport business and resulted in over 5 billion annual passengers for the first time ever. 2010 also pronounced the shift and divergence in growth across the regions. While North America and Europe have struggled to reach pre-crisis passenger volumes, Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and Middle East sustained a strong momentum and gained market share through double digit growth.”

ACI World adds that monthly passenger growth worldwide in 2010 was consistently high between 5% and 10% with the exception of a significant setback in April due to the volcanic ash cloud that hit Europe particularly hard. 

Another anomaly impacting traffic mainly in Europe was the unusually harsh winter weather in December. But despite these setbacks Europe still registered growth of 4.3% in 2010 thanks to strong international summer and fall traffic.

ACI added: “A slow economic recovery and restraint of air carriers in adding domestic capacity has led to modest growth in North America of 2.4%, keeping passenger numbers below pre-crisis levels in that region. 

“Asia-Pacific has benefited from a 14.2% rise of international passengers resulting in a total increase of 11.5%. Latin America-Caribbean enjoyed strong domestic traffic growth particularly in Brazil and other Latin American countries as national economies and low-cost carriers expand quickly.

“International traffic was also important in Africa which registered 8.8% more passengers in total while 11.5% more passengers arrived and departed in the Middle East.

Gittens concluded: “Passenger and freight growth clearly surpassed global GDP growth in 2010. GDP growth projections for this and the coming years are high creating a positive outlook for demand for air transport. This underpins the need to continue to expand and modernize airport infrastructure to maintain high standards of efficiency and customer service. 

“More than ever, airports will be asked to finance these projects autonomously without public funds requiring private and public airports to be empowered to generate necessary returns on their investment.” 

Among the largest airports in the world Beijing (+13%) leaped to the second rank behind Atlanta (+1.5%), which continues to be the world’s largest airport. London Heathrow dropped to the fourth rank overtaken by Beijing and Chicago O’Hare (+3.3%). Only two airports in the top 30 did not grow in 2010 – Las Vegas (-2.6%) and London Heathrow (-0.2%). Charlotte (+10.4%) was the only large airport outside Asia-Pacific and Middle East growing by more than 10%.



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