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Robust passenger traffic gains amidst economic and political uncertainty; air freight volumes surged over 8.0% in November - Jan 19, 2017

Robust passenger traffic gains amidst economic and political uncertainty; air freight volumes surged over 8.0% in November 


Montreal, 19 January 2017 –  For the 11 months through November 2016, global passenger traffic at the world’s major airports rose 5.4% as compared to the previous year. For the month of November, global passenger traffic increased 5.6% year-over-year.

International and domestic passenger traffic posted growth rates of 6.9% and 4.9% respectively for the same month. Despite economic and political uncertainty, global air travel continued to grow boosted by international traffic but at slower pace as compared to the previous year.

For the month of November, the Middle East led international passenger traffic growth (+12.7%), followed by Europe (+7.4%), Asia-Pacific (+5.9%), Latin America-Caribbean (+5.8%) and North America (+5.1%). The high growth in Europe testified to the recovery of international passenger traffic which had been adversely affected by the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March 2016. In Africa, international passenger remained flat at 0.2%.

Asia-Pacific and North America—the largest domestic passenger traffic markets—grew 7.8% and 2.6% respectively, in line with the year-to-date figures of 8.6% and 3.6%. Europe—the third largest market for domestic passengers—grew 8.3% during November and 5.2% on a year-to-date basis.

Africa was the only region where total passenger traffic contracted (-0.3%) during the month of November and during the eleven months since the beginning of the year (-3.5%). Total passenger traffic in the buoyant regions of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East grew at 9.1% and 9.4% respectively from January to November year-over-year, followed by Europe (+4.5%), North America (+4.0%) and Latin America-Caribbean (+2.4%).

At the country level, notable growth in passenger traffic was recorded for the major markets of India (+18.1% in November and +18.6% year-to-date), China (+10.6% in November and +8.3% year-to-date), and Spain (+10.3% in November and +10.9% year-to-date). India, China, Spain and the US were the key drivers of passenger traffic in 2016 and are expected to remain so in the near future.

At the individual airport level, notable growth was observed at Delhi (DEL, +8.9 million passengers), Seoul-Incheon (ICN, +7.8 million passengers) and Doha (DOH, +5.8 million passengers). Other airports with notable growth were Los Angeles (LAX, +5.5 million passengers), Shanghai-Pudong (PVG, +5.4 million passengers) and Dubai (DXB, +5.0 million passengers).

Air freight in November, largely driven by trade in consumer electronics and global digitization, grew 8.1% with notable growth of international (+9.2%) and domestic freight volumes (+5.6%). The global electronics market generated surge in air freight traffic due to close release dates for competing consumer products.

The three largest international freight markets—Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America—grew 11.2%, 10.7% and 6.3% respectively during November, while the year-to-date figures were not as robust, achieving 4.2%, 1.2% and 3.8% respectively.

The largest domestic freight markets—North America and Asia-Pacific—grew 6.4% and 5.2% respectively in November, while Latin America-Caribbean contracted 1.4% due to the ongoing economic problems in Brazil.

Total freight was strong in Asia-Pacific (+9.5%), North America (+8.4%), Europe (+6.3%) and the Middle East (+9.9%). Latin America-Caribbean and Africa were behind at 2.8% and 3.1% respectively. On a year-to-date basis, the highest growth in total freight was recorded at major commercial airports in the Middle East (+5.3%), Asia-Pacific (+4.0%) and Europe (+3.6%).

At the country level, all key air freight markets recorded freight volume hikes during November including China (+12.6%), Japan (+9.0%), Hong Kong (+7.1%), Korea (+9.1%), Chinese Taipei (+14.4%). China remains the fastest-growing air freight market in absolute terms (+over 550,000 tonnes), followed by the US (+over 300,000 tonnes) and Qatar (+270,000 tonnes).

At the individual airport level, Doha (DOH) was the world’s fastest-growing freight hub (+270,000 tonnes), followed by Shanghai-Pudong (PVG, +133,000 tonnes) and Guangzhou (CAN, +110,000 tonnes).

While it is evident that passenger traffic was largely driven by international tourism and travel despite the continued threats of terrorism in certain parts of the world, as well as economic uncertainty since the Great Recession, air freight markets remained volatile and were strongly affected by the consumer electronics industry and dynamic consumer demand for these products..

Notes for editors

1. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2017, ACI serves 623 members operating 1,940 airports in 176 countries. 

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. Download the PDF version of this Media Release.

Media contact
Sabrina Guerrieri
Manager, Communications
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1223
Anita Berthier
Manager, External Relations and Special Events 
ACI World 
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254 

Charts and tables


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Year-over-year percentage changes (% YOY) are calculated from a representative sample.