Airports Council International (ACI) World has reported global passenger traffic was up 5.7 per cent in December 2017 on a year-over-year (YOY) basis.
For the year as a whole, preliminary numbers show an increase of 6.4 per cent in passenger volumes across the world’s airports. Growth was above six per cent for the third year in a row.
ACI said in spite of looming challenges that remain on the horizon, passenger traffic continued to march to the beat of its own drum, posting annual growth rates above historical averages.
The combination of concerns over the risk of trade protectionism and geopolitical tensions were insufficient in curbing the flow of passengers across the world.
The association said: “Global travel and tourism remained irrepressible. With several years of continued robust growth, passenger traffic surpassed the 8.2 billion marks in 2017.
“These encouraging results may be a sign that fears concerning the impact of inward-looking policies have not fully precipitated across sectors of the economy.”
ACI added that European and Asia-Pacific markets have been driving the increases.
Despite the uncertainty over the outcomes of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, Europe’s largest aviation markets continued to make large strides in passenger traffic reaching record-breaking growth of 8.5 per cent YOY for the region.
And strong overall business and consumer confidence coupled with the offer of competitive transportation options by carriers continued to boost the propensity for air travel.
After Europe’s large strides, the Asia-Pacific region experienced strong demand for air travel as well. Many Indian and Chinese airports continued to achieve growth of a double-digit magnitude in 2017. Preliminary figures point to growth of 7.8 per cent for the region in 2017.
Both Latin America-Caribbean and Africa experienced a revival in passenger traffic following the recessions of the region’s major economies: Brazil and Nigeria. As a whole, Africa and Latin America-Caribbean grew by 5.9 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively.
Middle Eastern airports have observed moderate passenger traffic growth in 2017 as compared to previous years at 4.7 per cent YOY.
This was due mainly to the Qatari diplomatic crisis that resulted in travel bans and trade blockades between Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries acting to pull down the region’s previously robust growth.
North America, even with its mature market status, achieved gains of 3.5 per cent YOY in 2017. This is above its average 1.1 per cent per annum over the last two decades.
Some of the region’s largest hubs attained a resurgence in growth over the last couple of years – Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles grew by 5.3 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively in 2017.
ACI World director general, Angela Gittens said: “Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009 to early 2010, global passenger traffic has been growing at an average rate of 5.5 per cent annually—a testament to air transport’s resilience.
“At the same time, we must be cognizant of the impediments that could curtail the continued rise in demand, potentially hampering growth prospects over the short- and medium-term.”
Gittens added: “Specifically, these are related to geopolitical unrest, terrorism and threats to security in certain parts of the world. Physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure also pose challenges in accommodating future air transport demand.
“As well, protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalization could contract air service demand.”