Americas departing intl. traffic set to grow 8% yoy in 2024, says ForwardKeys

By Faye Bartle |

ForwardKeys

Source: ForwardKeys.

The post-pandemic bounce back of departing international traffic from the Americas is stabilising year-over-year, signalling a a full recovery from the pandemic, and the recent resurgence of business traffic may present renewed opportunities for stakeholders, shows the latest data from ForwardKeys.

“Global forecasts show a 15% increase in internationally departing traffic in the first half of 2024 and a 3% increase in the second half, resulting in an overall increase of +8% in 2024 compared with the previous year,” Olivier Ponti, Director – Intelligence & Marketing, ForwardKeys told TRBusiness.

“The Americas represent a 17% share of all globally departing international traffic in 2024, with the region forecast to increase by 11% in volume compared with last year, which is slightly behind the global average.

“The apparent decline in year-on-year (yoy) performance is accounted for by the improved recovery post-pandemic in 2023, rather than an expected decline in performance this year,” he elaborated. [See black line on the graph above right – Ed.]

North America represents a 55% share of all departing traffic from the Americas in 2024 and is expected to increase by +12% compared with last year.

Olivier Ponti

Olivier Ponti, Director – Intelligence & Marketing, ForwardKeys.

“This significant growth can be attributed to several factors, including the economic resilience of the US and Canada, which have shown strong economic recovery, boosting consumer confidence and discretionary spending on travel,” said Ponti.

“Also, the expansion of air routes from airlines in North America offers more options for travellers and has subsequently stimulated demand for the coming year.”

South America, which represents a 16% market share, is also set for +12% growth vs. last year.

Departing traffic from the Caribbean is forecast to increase by +9%, while traffic from Central America will increase by 6% yoy.

All eyes on JFK

The busiest airport for internationally departing traffic in 2024 is expected to be John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), representing a 5.9% market share of all departing traffic in the Americas. Pearson Intl. Airport follows, with a 4.9% market share, says ForwardKeys data.

“Ongoing investments in airport infrastructure, including terminal upgrades and expanded services, have improved the passenger experience, making JFK a preferred airport for international travellers, and cementing its status as a pivotal gateway hub for international travel to and from the United States,” explained Ponti.

From the top 20 busiest airports, the forecasted best performing airport compared with last year’s volumes is Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, with an +18% increase in travellers expected to pass through, representing an opportunity for retail expansion.

ForwardKeys

Source: ForwardKeys.

El Dorado Intl. Airport follows Montreal as the second-best performer, with +12% growth, with Pearson Intl., Los Angeles Intl., and Newark Liberty Intl. closely behind with +11% and +10%, respectively.

Domestic pax hotspots

Domestic traffic within the US is expected to increase by 4% in 2024, compared with 2023 levels.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Intl. Airport is forecast to welcome the largest volume of domestic traffic, with over a 5% share of all domestic traffic in the US.

“Considering airports which represent a 1% market share or greater, Charlotte Douglas airport tops the growth rankings, with an 18% increase compared with last year,” said Ponti.

“Fort Worth follows, with 13% growth, and Philadelphia is third, with 11% growth. Each of these airports have made strategic investments in expanding their capacity and enhancing services, making them more attractive to airlines and passengers alike.”

Look who’s travelling

Zooming in on passenger profiles, we can see that, based on departing traffic in 2023, leisure travel profiles make up the largest proportion of travellers – a 78% share.

This is followed by groups (9%), visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travellers (7%) and business profiles (6%).

ForwardKeys

Source: ForwardKeys.

Business profiles in 2023 trailed 2019 volumes (the pre-pandemic benchmark) by -31%, while leisure profiles came much closer at just -4% down.

The slower recovery of business travel is thought to reflect a move to remote work while, on the flip side, leisure travel was boosted by the urge to explore once restrictions were lifted.

“Despite the slower recovery overall of business travel, throughout 2023 there has been a significant acceleration in recovery between the first and second halves of the year,” said Ponti.

“Between Jan-Jun, departing traffic from the Americas with business profile types was still 47% behind 2019 levels, whilst in the second half of the year (Jul-Dec) business traffic improved significantly (-15% behind 2019 levels), suggesting a resurgence in the need for in-person business meetings.”

He added: “The busiest airport for departing travellers with business profiles in 2023 was JFK, affirming its status as a financial and business hub. Pearson Intl and Newark Liberty followed in second and third. For leisure profile types, Miami replaces Newark as the third busiest airport.”

A version of this feature first appeared in the TRBusiness March/April 2024 issue. Click here to read the ezine.

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