Press Releases

Passenger Traffic Continues to Grow at 6% while Air Freight Declines in March

Montréal, 04 May 2012 – Passenger traffic continues to post strong growth numbers with airports worldwide reporting overall year-over-year growth of 6% for the month of March, and for the first quarter of 2012. While double-digit growth was observed in the regions of Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Africa, demand for air travel was significantly depressed in a number of countries in these regions during the same period of 2011 as a result of political and social unrest. Nevertheless, from April 2011 to March 2012, the total volume of passenger traffic has increased by more than 5% for the twelve month period. This is strong indicator of resilience in demand for air transport over short run political and economic shocks.

For the month of March, air freight was in negative territory at -2.2%. Although freight rebounded to achieve positive year-over-year growth in the previous month of February, this high-growth rate stemmed from postponed shipments from January’s Chinese New Year. Taking this into consideration, the overall global growth trend in air freight continues to be negative. Europe’s economic slowdown has significantly impacted global trade, with a year-over-year decline of -4.3%. The major freight hubs of Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG) and Amsterdam (AMS) experienced declines of -11.3%, -9.7% and -3.2% percent respectively. Moreover, on a global level, 14 of the world’s top 20 high-volume freight airports experienced year-over-year declines.

ACI World’s Director of Economics and Programme Development, Dr. Rafael Echevarne commented, “Looking back over the last 15 months, overall growth trends in passenger traffic points to a passenger who is immune to adverse political events and economic risks. While certain regions experienced short run declines, demand for air transport services remained consistently strong over this period, with monthly year-over-year growth rates in the area of 5%. Air freight, as an indicator of global trade, is much more cyclical with respect to economic risk. Short-term prospects continue to be uncertain for air freight, particularly in the major markets of Europe which continue to experience recessionary type symptoms”.

Mar 2012
Over  Mar 2011
Year to date
 rolling year
International passenger
Domestic passenger
Total passenger
International freight
Domestic freight
Total freight


Notes for editors

1. Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide association of airports, has 580 member airport authorities, which operate over 1,650 airports in 179 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 further information, contact Cheryl Marcell