Asia’s mega populations drive global air traffic growth

Asia’s most populous countries are among the fastest-growing markets in the world for air travel, new data has revealed.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a total of 3.8 billion passengers travelled by air in 2016, up from 3.5bn the previous year. And while the US remains by far the largest market in the world for air travel, China, India and Indonesia all experienced double-digit growth.

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport

India jumped two places to become the world’s fourth largest aviation market last year, with 131 million departures. This marked a 20% year-on-year increase, covering domestic, international and connecting traffic.

And India could soon move up to third in the global rankings, ahead of Japan, which handled 141m passengers in 2016. Just three years ago India was only the word’s eighth largest aviation market.

Indonesia also moved up two positions this year, to sixth, with 116m passenger departures. This followed a 12.9% year-on-year increase compared to 2015. Compared to other similar sized markets, Indonesia is far more driven by domestic air traffic.

In contrast, Brazil plunged four places down the list in 2016, to ninth, as a severe economic recession contributed to a 10.4% year-on-year decline in passenger departures, to 100m.

The US (815m) and China (490m) remained by far the largest passenger aviation markets in the world in 2016, accounting for more than a third of global traffic combined. Traffic in China continued to grow strongly in 2016, rising 10.3% year-on-year.

Of the total 3.8bn air passenger departures globally in 2016, almost 50% (1.9bn) were on domestic flights, 34% (1.3bn) were international departures, and the remaining 16% (604n) were connecting departures.

China (1.38bn people), India (1.33bn) and Indonesia (260m) are three of the world’s four most populous countries, along with the US (324m).

World’s Biggest Air Passenger Markets

1)    USA       –    815 million passengers
2)    China    –    490 million
3)    Japan    –    141 million
4)    India     –    131 million
5)    UK         –    131 million

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