Global Passenger Traffic up 5% in 2014

Over a twelve-month period, preliminary data shows a growth rate of 5.1 percent year over year, with both international and domestic traffic posting strong growth rates of 5.8 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.

A recent report by ACI shows that global passenger traffic ended 2014 strong with year-over-year growth of 5.6 percent for the month of December.

Over a twelve-month period, preliminary data shows a growth rate of 5.1 percent year over year, with both international and domestic traffic posting strong growth rates of 5.8 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.

Despite the uneven recovery in the global economy, there has been a net increase in global demands and commodities, which has helped to awaken the air freight market in the last quarter of 2013 and into 2014.

Air freight volumes completed the year with a 4.7 percent increase for the year as a whole, according to the report by ACI.

In Africa, air transport is on the path to recovery, with an annualised growth of 3.2 percent in passenger traffic. Despite the adverse effects of the Ebola crisis on air transport in Western Africa, Northern Africa has increased passenger traffic after a bleak period in 2012 and 2013.

According to the report by ACI, North Africa’s busiest airport, Cairo (CAI) saw passenger traffic jump up by 6.5 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year. Algiers (ALG) and Casablanca (CMN) experienced strong growth of 9.1 percent and 5.4 percent respectively, while Africa’s busiest airport – Johannesburg (JNB) ended the year with a 1.3 percent increase.

The Asia-Pacific region registered a growth of almost 6 percent for the entire year, although many of the region’s major commercial airports are experiencing slow growth. Beijing (PEK) grew by 2.9 percent in 2014 according to the report by ACI – a figure much lower, after the airport registered double-digit growth rates before 2011. Asia-Pacific’s number two ranked airport – Tokyo Haneda (HND) grew by 5.3 percent in 2014.

In Europe, despite concerns over the economy, the region ended the year with an increase in passenger traffic (+5 percent). Most of the major airports which were crippled by the Euro crisis such as Madrid (MAD) and Rome (FCO) saw traffic increase by 5.3 percent and 6.5 percent respectively. Athens (ATH) saw traffic jump by over 21 percent, according to the report by ACI, and Istanbul continued to climb the rankings among the world’s busiest airports with growth of 10.6 percent.

However, political tensions in Eastern Europe have resulted in falling passenger traffic in Ukraine by 13 percent, with lower growth at some of the major Russian airports.

Latin America-Caribbean was one of the regions to experience the highest rate of growth in passenger traffic in 2014, according to the report by ACI. The region witnessed an overall growth of 6 percent year on year – largely due to the expanding domestic markets of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. Sao Paulo (GRU) Mexico City, and Bogota (BOG) all experienced gains of 9.2 percent, 8.6 and 8.6 percent respectively, according to ACI.

The Middle East continues to grow at the highest rate, with an overall gain of 9.4 percent year on year. Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Doha (DOH) grew by 20.2 percent and 13.2 percent respectively. Despite a runway closing for refurbishment during June and July, Dubai International (DXB) has become the world’s busiest international airport in 2014, overtaking London Heathrow (LHR), and achieving gains of 6.1 percent.

North America has witnessed a growth of 3.3 percent overall, rising above the annual trend of 0.5 percent year on year from 2000 to 2013. The Domestic market dominates the region, although international traffic has continued to grow. Los Angeles (LAX) has grown by almost 7 percent in international passenger traffic, allowing the airport to position itself among the fastest growing major commercial airports in North America. According to the report by ACI, Atlanta (ATL) – the world’s busiest airport increased its passenger traffic by 1.8 percent in 2014 to over 96 million passengers per annum.

ACI World's Economics Director Rafael Echevarne commented: "In previous years we saw a marked divergence in growth between airports located in emerging markets versus those that are located in advanced economies. That is, the mature markets of North America and Europe experienced modest growth levels whereas the major emerging economies such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) had posted double-digit gains year-after-year. The recent cyclical slowdown in emerging markets has translated into lower growth levels with respect to both passenger and air freight traffic. However, the advanced economies of Europe and North America have rebounded in 2014, which resulted in a form of convergence in growth rates across the regions.”