Asia set to Dominate World’s Top 10 Airports by 2016

Beijing will have become the world’s largest airport by seat capacity within three years and Asian airports will account for half the world’s top 10, according to a growth forecast by OAG, a market leader of aviation intelligence.  OAG’s August FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report reveals the world’s current top ten airports by seat capacity and, using growth trend data for the past three years, extrapolates from this month’s ranking to show the potential situation in August 2016.

Under OAG’s projections, world leader Atlanta will be overtaken by current number two Beijing, while Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong will enter the global top 10 alongside current Asian member Tokyo Haneda.  Asia’s projected gains will be principally at the expense of the United States, which will see its share of the global top 10 slip from four to two airports.  Europe is expected to see a smaller reduction, from three to two airports, thanks to the rise of Istanbul, which is forecast to make a dramatic debut in the 2016 leader board as the world’s third-largest airport.

“We know the balance of economic power is shifting eastwards, but our three-year projection shows how dramatically Asian air transport is growing.  This month, Atlanta still has a lead over Beijing of 465,000 seats, but by 2016 Beijing will have surged ahead,” explained John Grant, executive vice president, OAG.

 “Furthermore, we expect to see new entrants Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong push out established leaders Chicago, Dallas, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Europe’s blushes will be spared only by the extraordinary rise of Istanbul, which we expect to rocket from almost nowhere into the number three slot only three years from now,” he added.

August’s OAG FACTS also examines the world’s current top 10 domestic markets for low-cost carrier (LCC) seat capacity, and reveals the proportion of total domestic seats accounted for by LCCs in each case.  With few exceptions, the top 10 markets have a rate of LCC penetration that far exceeds the global average of 27 per cent.

“The United States is the biggest domestic LCC market, with 21.7 million seats, but only 30 per cent of its domestic capacity is provided by low-cost operators.  LCC penetration is even lower Japan at 18 per cent, where low-cost operators were only recently allowed into the market. In China, the LCC model has yet to make any real inroads,” notes Grant.  “Elsewhere in the top 10 we see a very significant degree of LCC penetration, led by the Philippines (85 per cent) and India (72 per cent), but overall the market for these carriers is clearly far from exhausted.”

Lastly, this month’s FACTS reveals the markets presently experiencing the fastest growth in international seat capacity.  As detailed in OAG’s July FACTS report, North African countries are presently experiencing the most rapid expansion, as they continue to recover from the effects of 2011’s Arab Spring. Libya is the fastest growing market (capacity up 61 per cent versus August 2012) and Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco have also seen strong increases.  The South-East Asian markets of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are all expected to see double-digit growth this month versus August 2012.  Together, they are expected to add just over two million extra international seats.  Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates continues its strong growth, with carriers adding 1.3 million extra international seats compared to a year ago.