International traffic grew +2.1% to 129.6m

By Doug Newhouse |

International passengers – defined as departing and arriving – rose by 2.1% to 129.6m in March, according to Airports Council International, with Europe up 3.7% to 63.4m, Asia +1.4% to 31.8m; North America +3.9% to 16.1m; Latin America and the Caribbean +7% to 6.9m; the Middle East +3.8% to 6.5m; and Africa down -22.8% to 4.7m. For the first quarter of 2011, international traffic grew by 4.6% to 364.8m and in the year to date to March by 6.9% to 1.6bn.

The impact of natural disasters and big decline in North African traffic (-18.2% to 7.6m) due to political events dampened total global international and domestic traffic results, which rose by just 2% to 295m passengers. For the first quarter 2011, global traffic rose by 4% to 822.6m passengers, compared to the first quarter of 2010. 

ACI Director General Angela Gittens said: “We admire the resilience of our affected members who have worked diligently to maintain vital airport services, despite the magnitude of natural disasters and the impact of political unrest. We will be supporting them and working with them to assist in any way that we can as they re-build their facilities.”

ACI added that following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Tokyo Narita passenger numbers declined by 29%, while Haneda reported 19% fewer passengers. 

Meanwhile, political uncertainty was the cause of the extensive declines in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain. In Egypt, Cairo lost 37% of passengers compared to last year. Sharm-el-Sheikh (-68.5%) and Hurghada (-79%) were hit the hardest by tourists staying away almost entirely from Egypt. In Europe, Athens (-16%) continued to take the brunt of the national economic crisis.

ACI says that although a third of the airports in the monthly PaxFlash sample saw declining passenger volume, overall growth in most regions was positive. For the month, Latin America-Caribbean reported the strongest growth (10%) and overall traffic in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North America remained positive as well. Growth continued robustly in India, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. 

Commenting on the long-term outlook, Gittens said: “The good news is that for many markets, the traffic outlook is holding to expectations and steady growth is a reality. With traffic rising significantly over the next few years, we will be called upon to satisfy our airline customers’ infrastructure needs, while at the same time enhancing safety, security and efficiency. 

“Airport development thus remains a critical exercise in our industry which is capital intensive and characterized by long-lead times for approvals and execution.”



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