High Growth Continues for Global Airline Passenger Traffic and Freight Volumes in November

Airports Council International (ACI) World reported global passenger traffic up 7.5% in November on a year-over-year basis. This is above the already robust 6.5% year-over-year from January to November.

Airports Council International (ACI) World reported global passenger traffic up 7.5% in November on a year-over-year basis. This is above the already robust 6.5% year-over-year from January to November. After posting more moderate growth during October, November’s freight volumes rose substantially, reaching +7.8% on a year-over-year basis. Standing at +8.2% on a year- to-date basis and with only one month left in 2017, global freight figures are bound to reach record growth this year. 

Passenger traffic

Asia-Pacific (+10.6%), Africa (+10.5%) and Europe (+8.1%) all posted particularly high growth in November. International traffic was a key driver for these increases, especially for European and Asia-Pacific markets. Strong overall business and consumer confidence continued to boost carriers offering low cost options. Africa continued to experience a strong recovery, following the recession, which affected the continent’s largest economies: Nigeria and South Africa. On the other hand, Asia-Pacific’s domestic traffic rose significantly during the month, reaching +9.3%. The figure remained below the region’s international traffic growth, however, which stood at +12.9%. 

Total passenger traffic in North America, Latin America-Caribbean and the Middle East grew at a more moderate pace, reaching +4.8%, +3.8% and +3.5% respectively. Both North America and Latin America-Caribbean were negatively affected by weather events during September, the effects of which are progressively receding. The Middle East’s growth in passenger traffic was still disrupted by tensions between major players in the region, with internal strife disrupting Yemen and the partial blockade against Qatar still underway. 

At the local level, Asia-Pacific’s largest markets enjoyed significant growth in November, with Indonesia’s passenger traffic rising at +17.9% for its major commercial airports, Thailand at +15.9%, India at +14% and China at +12.5%. On a year-to-date basis, India and Indonesia are set to post double-digit growth in 2017. 

Latin America-Caribbean, international passenger traffic reached +6.5%, close to its year to date figures of +6.6%, after sustaining decline in October. This recovery could bring the region’s growth rate to over 7% by end-of-year. 

Current global growth by November’s end was 6.5%, in line with 2016 numbers. Unless December numbers bring surprises, this year should bring another period of high growth for the airport industry. 

Freight volumes 

The cargo business continued to benefit from a strong growth in volumes in November thanks to global trade. This was reflected in gains in export orders, with global figures reaching +7.8%. 2017 air freight volumes have experienced a record year, with annualized growth over 8% with respect to the previous year. 

Africa, North America and Europe once again topped growth figures for total freight, reaching +14.7%, +8.9% and +8.7% respectively. Asia-Pacific (+7.2%), Latin America-Caribbean (+6.9%) and the Middle East (+2.9%) followed, the latter starting to regain speed after slowing down to +1.3% in October. On a year-to-date basis, all regions were posting high growth, at more than 5%. 

International freight was the main driver for most of the increases, reaching +7.8% after slowing down to +4.4% over the three months prior to November. Airports in the Asia-Pacific region lead in volumes handled for export and overall growth.

Double-digit growth in total freight volumes will be achieved for airports as a whole in the region for 2017. At the local level, large markets have been contributing to this success, with India (+17.9%), China (+16.7%), Japan (+12.8%) and Thailand (+11.5%) reaching double-digit growth on a year-to-date basis, and Hong Kong (+9.5%) following close behind for international trade volumes. The United States, the largest domestic freight market in the world, saw significant strides in volumes, increasing by +5.1% on a year-over-year basis. In Europe, growth was boosted by strong numbers in Spain (+15.6%), the United Kingdom (+13.2%) and Turkey (+11.3%). All three of these countries had year-to-date numbers reaching double-digit growth.