Global air travel demand increases to 3.8 billion

Global airlines carried 3.8 billion passengers on scheduled services last year, an increase of 7 percent on the previous 12 months, representing an additional 242 million air trips.

Worldwide air travel demand surged 7 per cent last year to 3.8 billion passengers, according to figures published by The International Air Transport Association (IATA), with the Asia-Pacific accounting for more than a third of the total market share.

IATA's World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) report for 2017 found that the 7 percent increase in 2015 represented an additional 242 million air trips.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region had a 35 percent market share in 2016, carrying 1.3 billion passengers, up 11.3 percent year-on-year. Europe accounted for 26 percent of the market (992.4 million, up 6.1 percent) and North America 24 percent (911.5 million, up 3 percent).

New model airlines (NMAs), a classification that includes low-cost carriers (LCCs), accounted for 28.3 percent of all passengers in 2016, up from 27.1 percent of passengers in 2015.

Network carriers account for 69.5 percent of total passengers while leisure carriers contributed 2.2 percent to passenger volumes.

Measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), NMAs accounted for 20 percent of global traffic, reflecting the concentration of this sector on short-haul flying. By the same RPK measure, network carriers accounted for 77 percent of traffic with leisure carriers comprising 3 percent of traffic. 

Despite its recent issues, Ryanair is the world’s dominant LCC after handling 112 million domestic and international passengers in 2016, ranking fifth in the world for the number of passengers carried.

The WATS report also found that US citizens are the world’s most prevalent travellers. Some 810 million passengers travelled on US passports in 2016, comprising 21 percent of all passengers worldwide.