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Global passenger traffic jumps up by 6%; air freight volumes on pace with overall growth trend for October - Dec 11, 2014

Montréal, 11 December 2014 – For the period of January to October 2014, accumulated passenger traffic grew by 4.9% on a year-to-date basis. For the month of October alone, passenger numbers grew by 6% year over year. Airports also reported an increase of 6.3% in international passenger traffic; domestic passenger traffic increased by 5.8% as compared to October 2013. 

On the whole, the African continent continues to experience a strong recovery in passenger traffic, although the results vary on a sub-regional level. Western Africa showed weakness in air transport demand, due in part to the Ebola crisis. Dakar (DKR), one of West Africa’s busiest airports, saw traffic drop by 11.5% in October. On the other hand, North Africa’s passenger traffic strengthened after a bleak period in 2012 and 2013 due to the instability brought on by the Arab Spring. Cairo (CAI) and Hurghada (HRG), two of Egypt’s major airports, saw passenger traffic jump back by 11% and 155.1% respectively for the month of October. Overall, African passenger traffic increased by 8.8%.

The Middle East also achieved strong growth in passenger traffic at 7.6% for the month of October. Although the first ranked Dubai (DXB), the world’s busiest international airport, and second ranked Doha (DOH) lead the regions traffic volumes, growth primarily came from Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Tel Aviv (TLV). The airports posted gains of 17.4% and 10.7% respectively.

The Asia-Pacific region experienced growth of 7.3% in overall passenger traffic. The domestic Chinese market continues to be a large contributor to growth. Several Chinese airports achieved double-digit gains in passenger traffic. The region’s top ranked airports—Beijing (PEK), Tokyo (HND) and Hong Kong (HKG)—posted gains of 2.6%, 11.7% and 7.5% respectively.

European airports continue to teeter towards recovery after the Euro area’s economic woes, which persisted throughout 2013. Despite this, passenger traffic was up by almost 6% in October. Istanbul (IST) continues to report impressive gains at 12.8% year over year for the month of October. Air transport demand in Madrid (MAD) and Rome (FCO) has bounced back following the weakness in these economies during the Euro area crisis. Each airport achieved growth of 7.9% and 10.4% respectively. Passenger traffic in Latin America-Caribbean and North American airports grew by 5.4% and 4.4% respectively.

Global air freight traffic continued to maintain an upward trend in volumes with a year-over-year growth rate of 5% for the month of October. The overall accumulated volumes for the last twelve months rose by 4.6%. International freight volumes jumped up by 5.6%, whereas domestic volumes increased by 3.4%.

The Middle East posted the greatest increase in freight volumes at 13.7% year-over-year for the month of October. Dubai World Central (DWC), a Middle Eastern airport that has experienced significant growth with the commencement of its operations, is now a major contributor to overall increases in freight volumes for the region. Air freight volumes at DWC have increased by over 331% as compared to the previous year.

Africa also achieved double digit growth of 10.7% for the month of October. Johannesburg (JNB), Africa’s largest freight hub, moved up by 7.6% in terms of freight volumes.

Asia-Pacific posted increases in volumes of 4.8% for the month of October, which is slightly below the twelve-month growth trend of 5.7%. Nevertheless, the region’s largest freight hubs continue to report gains in volumes. Hong Kong (HKG), Shanghai (PVG) and Incheon (ICN) saw volumes increase by 4.3%, 7.5% and 1.7% respectively for the month.

North America also experienced growth of over 4% following a weakened air freight market in 2013. Memphis (MEM), North America’s busiest freight airport and FedEx hub, and Louisville (SDF), the UPS hub, grew by 2.2% and 4.2% for the month of October.

Europe experienced more moderate growth of 3.6% year-over-year. However, results were mixed across airports in the region. Frankfurt (FRA) grew only slightly (0.7%), while Paris (CDG) had a decline of 1%. Amsterdam (AMS) and London (LHR) grew by 7.7% and 8.3% respectively.

With ongoing weakness in the Brazilian and Argentinian economies, freight volumes in Latin-America-Caribbean increased only slightly by 1.7% for the month of October.

“Although there has been improvement in the United States economy coupled with greater momentum in international trade volumes in Asia-Pacific, downside risks continue to persist in other regions, particularly in the Euro area. The German economy has experienced weak industrial production and export growth, which may translate into weakness across its economy. Japan, Russia and Brazil are also stagnating. Many of these factors combined may adversely affect air transport demand,” said ACI World Economics Director Rafael Echevarne. “That being said, air travel has showed some level of immunity to the ongoing risks in the global economy despite its link to the overall business cycle. Growth in passenger traffic will still be in the realm of 5% for 2014 by year’s end with air freight also growing by over 4% as compared 2013.”


Notes for Editors

  1. Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide association of airports, has 591 member airport authorities, which operate 1,861 airports in 177 countries. ACI’s mission is to promote professional excellence in airport management and operations, and this mandate is carried out through the organization’s multiple training opportunities, as well as the customer service benchmarking programme, a wide range of conferences, industry statistical products and best practice publications.

  2. PaxFlash and FreightFlash statistics are based on a significant sample of airports that provide regular monthly reports to ACI. They represent approximately 60% of total passenger traffic and 70% of total freight traffic worldwide. Commentary, tables and charts are based on preliminary data submitted by participating airports and are therefore subject to change.

  3. Regional results and trend graphics are provided on the following pages.

  4. For the PDF download of this media release click here.

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Martine Ohayon
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ACI World
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Ryan White
Manager, Communications
ACI World
T: +1 514 373 1226