Press Releases

ACI Releases its 2011 World Airport Traffic Report: Airport Passenger Traffic Remains Strong as Cargo Traffic Weakens

Montréal, 27 August 2012 – Director General of ACI World, Angela Gittens today announced the publication of ACI’s 2011 World Annual Traffic Report. “ACI’s flagship publication is a unique and comprehensive industry reference providing data, indicators and analyses from over 1,500 airports in over 150 countries. The report describes the continued growth trajectory following the two-year recession of 2008-2009. Although 2011 can best be characterized as a year plagued with economic uncertainty, natural disasters and sociopolitical upheaval, airport passenger traffic posted another record year. The world’s airports served more than 5.4 billion passengers in 2011 growing by 5.3% from 2010. This is ongoing evidence of the sheer size of the global aviation market as well as the perseverance of the industry as a whole.”
Commenting on cargo traffic, Gittens said, “Trade in air cargo was not as resilient to the uncertain economic climate that was primarily brought on by the debt default risks in European and North American economies. In the latter half of 2011, with business confidence deteriorating, cargo traffic contracted in tandem. In the aggregate, cargo volumes were almost flat in 2011 relative to 2010 at 93.1 million tonnes.”

2011 – Key statistics in Brief

1,520 airports located in 156 countries reported that:

  • Worldwide airport passenger numbers increased by 5.3% in 2011 to 5.44 billion, registering increases in five of six regions
  • Latin America-Caribbean (+8.5%), Middle East (+7.7%), Asia-Pacific (+7.0%) and Europe (+7.0%) all showed robust growth in passenger traffic, North America (+1.8%) experienced moderate growth; With the brunt of social and political unrest in Northern Africa, Africa (-3.5%) saw a contraction in year-over-year passenger traffic.
  • Worldwide domestic traffic increased by 3.7%, while international traffic jumped by 6.6%
  • Worldwide aircraft movements increased 2.3% to 77 million
  • Total cargo volumes handled by airports was flat at 0.2%, which represents 93.1 million tonnes
  • 70% of airports worldwide registered positive passenger growth at an average of 7.9%, while 30% of airports lost traffic at an average rate of -5.9%.

Gittens remarked on some new additions to the report, “In this edition of the World Annual Airport Traffic Report, ACI provides new perspectives and analyses based on an expanded airport traffic data set. In addition, a historical perspective was adopted to quantify the adverse impact of major events on airport traffic and demonstrate the resilience of air transport demand over the last decade. Market share and traffic concentration is also investigated in greater depth among the major airport hub cities of the world. The Report also features specialized sections covering the measurement of airport traffic fluctuations and seasonality. A review of airport output indicators is also a new and insightful additions to this year’s report. As always, ACI provides the most comprehensive airport traffic data and rankings in an internationally comparable format, as well as regional traffic trends to provide our members and readership a global view of the industry as a whole.”

RegionTotal Aircraft Movements% ChangeTotal passengers% ChangeTotal Cargo% Change
Africa2 581 044(0.6)152 274 326(3.5)1 795 7612.6
Asia-Pacific14 464 7055.91 558 321 8207.033 994 032(0.5)
Europe20 146 6273.41 569 907 3137.018 168 6581.4
Latin America-Caribbean7 789 7795.2408 193 9208.54 994 6697.6
Middle East2 046 1912.3221 889 5777.75 937 0431.2
North America30 046 815(0.5)1 529 685 6081.828 259 171
World77 075 1612.35 440 272 5645.393 149 3340.2

Passengers: total passengers enplaned and deplaned, passengers in transit counted once.
Cargo: loaded and unloaded freight and mail.
Aircraft Movements: landing and take-off of an aircraft.


Commenting on regional trends, Gittens said, “Growth rates in monthly passenger traffic were relatively stable for most of 2011. The emerging markets of Latin America-Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East posted strong gains, with the exception of Africa that experienced a decline of -3.5% in passenger traffic as a result of social and political unrest in Northern Africa. North America experienced more moderate growth in passenger traffic throughout 2011. Europe was still able to stay afloat with an impressive growth rate of 7% despite the economic slowdown and the move to government austerity in the latter half of 2011. This is partly explained by the growing number of international traffic passengers passing through European airports.”

2012 Outlook

Preliminary ACI statistics received just before press time showed global passenger traffic up 5% for the first six months of 2011. Commenting on the prospects for the remainder of the year, ACI World’s Director of Economics and Programme Develoment, Dr. Rafael Echevarne, noted, “The traffic outlook for 2012 is mixed. Although passenger traffic in 2012 is expected to grow, the significant slow-down of the economies in the BRIC countries, together with the continued economic troubles in Europe and the United States, means that the overall growth rate in passenger traffic will be at less than 5%. Cargo traffic is expected to show a decline with respect to 2011 levels, mainly driven by the low business and consumer confidence in the largest international economies.”

Notes to editors:

  • Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide association of airports, is a non-profit organization whose prime purpose is to represent the interests of airports and to promote professional excellence in airport management and operations. In 2011, ACI had 580 members operating over 1650 airports in 179 countries and territories.
  • The World Airport Traffic Report 2011 (WATR 2011) is the most comprehensive source of airport traffic data on the market. Based on input from 1520 commercial airports from 156 countries, data is presented in five key global traffic categories: total passenger, total cargo, aircraft movements, international passenger and international freight. Rankings by order of busiest airports in each category are provided. The Report also groups results region-by-region, country-by-country, as well as airport-by-airport.
  • WATR 2011 also includes the Top 10 ranking of airports by category, with growth percentages compared to 2010, as well as the list of the 25 fastest growing airports. An abridged version of the Report’s executive summary and the top 100 listings for the main categories are available on request. Media representatives should contact Cheryl Marcell at with any queries.
  • ACI produces a full range of publications covering airport policies/standards, monthly and yearly traffic reports, airport economics and global traffic forecasting. The WATR 2011, and previous editions, can be purchased on the ACI website at the following URL:


Total Passengers: arriving and departing passengers; direct transit passengers counted once
1Atlanta GA, USAATL92 389 0233.5
2Beijing, China (People’s Republic of)PEK78 675 0586.4
3London, United KingdomLHR69 433 5655.4
4Chicago IL, USAORD66 701 241(0.1)
5Tokyo, JapanHND62 584 826(2.5)
6Los Angeles CA, USALAX61 862 0524.7
7Paris, FranceCDG60 970 5514.8
8Dallas/Fort Worth TX, USADFW57 803 4391.5
9Frankfurt, GermanyFRA56 436 2556.5
10Hong Kong, ChinaHKG53 328 6135.9


1Hong Kong, ChinaHKG3 976 768.2(4.5)
2Memphis TN, USAMEM3 916 410.0(0.0)
3Shanghai, China (People’s Republic of)PVG3 085 267.7(4.4)
4Anchorage AK, USA*ANC2 543 105.0(3.9)
5Incheon, Korea (Rep of)ICN2 539 221.0(5.4)
6Paris, FranceCDG2 300 063.0(4.1)
7Dubai, United Arab EmiratesDXB2 269 767.9(0.0)
8Frankfurt, GermanyFRA2 214 939.1(2.6)
9Louisville KY, USASDF2 188 421.81.0
10Tokyo, JapanNRT1 945 351.0(10.3)
*ANC data include transit freight.


1Atlanta GA, USAATL923 996(2.7)
2Chicago IL, USAORD878 798(0.4)
3Los Angeles CA, USALAX702 8955.4
4Dallas/Fort Worth TX, USADFW646 803(0.8)
5Denver CO, USADEN628 796(0.2)
6Charlotte NC, USACLT539 8422.0
7Beijing, China (People’s Republic of)PEK533 2573.0
8Las Vegas NV, USALAS531 5385.1
9Houston TX, USAIAH517 262(2.7)
10Paris, FranceCDG514 0592.8

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