ACI: World traffic grew 6.6% in 2010, 6% in 2011 first half

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Published: August 16, 2011

News from ATW’s Airports Today: Airports Council International’s World Annual Traffic Report released this month details a “strong rebound from the two-year industry slump,” the organization noted, pointing out that worldwide airport passengers increased 6.6% in 2010 compared to 2009 to reach 5.04 billion for the full year. That marked the most passengers ever in a single year.

“Cargo volumes also hit a record, surging past 91 million tonnes with 15.3% growth,” ACI stated. “Once again, our industry has shown its resiliency in recovering from a downturn.”

ACI’s statistics for 2010 cover 1,318 airports in 157 countries.

The highest growing regions year-over-year were Latin America/Caribbean (+13.2%), Middle East (+12%), Asia/Pacific (+11.3%) and Africa (+9.5), ACI reported.

Worldwide 2010 domestic passenger traffic increased 5.8% year-over-year while international traffic rose 7.7%, according to the organization. Worldwide aircraft movements heightened 1.1% to 74 million. Total cargo volume handled by airports lifted 15.3% to 91 million tonnes.

ACI noted that “69% of airports worldwide registered positive passenger growth at an average of 8.6%, while 30% of airports lost traffic at an average rate of -4.1%.”

DG Angela Gittens said the growth indicates a need to expand and upgrade airport facilities around the world. “More than ever, governments and our airline partners will need to work closely with our airports to ensure that the required capacity is added in a safe, secure, efficient and sustainable manner,” she stated. “At the same time, air navigation systems will need to be upgraded to keep pace with the growth curve.”

She pointed out that the regional breakdown of traffic growth reveals a changing world. “Traffic growth in emerging markets led the way,” she said. “In the Middle East, liberalized bilateral agreements and large increases in fleet capacity drove growth, particularly in the UAE and Qatar. In Asia/Pacific, India’s traffic grew nearly 15% and China’s nearly 14% as the region once again increased its global market share. Increases in the mature North American and European markets were 2% and 4.3%, respectively, but they remain the No. 1 and 2 regions for market share, although Asia/Pacific is rapidly closing the gap.”

ACI said that preliminary statistics show global airport passenger traffic up 6% year-over-year for the first six months of 2011. ACI World Director-Economics Andreas Schimm commented, “Strong global economic growth in the latter half of 2011 should propel our sector to another good year. But even against the backdrop of growth, there is considerable uncertainty about oil prices, concern over sovereign debt, volatility in exchange rates, and in the US, slowing growth and persistent unemployment. All told, there is a lot to worry about, particularly in the developed economies. Growth in emerging and developing nations, however, is expected by the IMF to continue at a rapid clip, giving us considerable reason for further optimism about the remainder of the year.”

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