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Global air passenger traffic continues moderation seen in 2018

Air freight market beginning to address the decline started in November

Montreal, 25 March 2019 – Airports Council International (ACI) World has found global passenger traffic grew by 4.8% in January, a growth rate consistent with results recorded for December 2018.

Following a weaker result in December in which industry volumes fell 1.5%, the air freight market inched down by 0.1% in January.

ACI collects and analyzes data from a significant sample of airports that provide regular reports on month-by-month passenger and freight statistics; this forms part of the world’s most comprehensive source for airport data.

“Global passenger traffic growth remained robust in January but below the 12-months rolling average for the industry of 5.8%,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Global air freight continued to decline, but at a slower rate and this needs to be seen in the context of last year’s growth and the current market conditions.

“Twelve months ago, the air freight industry grew 8% which was a particularly successful month, and this set a higher benchmark for January this year. Given the increased use of tariffs, continuing tensions, and resulting supply chain shocks, air freight volumes have shown some resilience in that they did not fall further.”

Passenger traffic:

International passenger volume remained a stronger growth driver than domestic passenger volume, at 6.7% and 5.2% respectively. After lagging slightly behind other major regional markets in the latter half of 2018, Asia-Pacific grew the most in January, posting 5.6% growth. As with 2018, the Lunar New Year fell in February this year, with limited impact on the first month of the year as a result. The 12-month rolling average for the region stood at 6.6%, with both international (7.3%) and domestic (6.2%) segments performing strongly.

North America and Europe posted similar figures in January, at 4.5% and 4.2% respectively. Both regions had higher growth in international passengers than domestic (6.1% versus 5.6%), with Europe’s domestic market recording +0.9% growth but falling behind its international segment significantly.

Africa and Latin America posted moderating figures in January. Africa was driven by its international market and gained 5.9% during the month, with a 12-month rolling average standing at 10.1%. Latin America’s results were driven by its domestic market and reached 5.3% in January, more in line with its 5.7% figure for the last twelve months.

The Middle East continued its subdued gains due to regional tensions, growing by 1.7% against a 2.2% 12-month rolling average.

Freight volumes:

Domestic freight recovered from its slowdown in January, gaining 4.7% year-over-year and leaving its 12-month rolling average at 4.2%. The industry’s international segment declined even more during the period, however, posting -2.2% compared to -1.7% in December. The two trends countervailed each other resulting in the air freight market inching down by 0.1% in January.

North America recovered from recent months and climbed 3.9% during the period, with its growth completely fuelled by its domestic segment, which gained 6% (international freight gained 0.7% in North America during the period). The region had declined by 1.2% in December.

All other regions posted declines in total freight. Asia-Pacific declined 1.7% against January 2018, while Europe declined 2.2%. The two regions’ 12-month rolling averages stood at 1.3% and 1.2% respectively, by the month’s end, with Asia-Pacific’s domestic freight (3.2%) propping up the region’s overall results slightly.

Africa suffered significant volatility but remained in positive territory for the last twelve months; it declined by 1.2% in January. Along with Latin America-Caribbean (7%), Africa maintained a strong 12-month rolling average at 11.4%. The Middle East declined 1.8% during the month on a year-over-year basis, and was the only region with a combined growth of less than 1% in the last twelve months. By January’s end, its 12-months rolling average stood at 0%.

Charts and tables

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 2019, ACI serves 646 members, operating 1,960 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.

Media contacts

Anita Berthier
Manager, External Relations and Special Events
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254

Sabrina Guerrieri
Manager, Communications
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1200