Emerging markets drive air traffic growth

Fast-growing airlines such as Emirates have boosted Middle East traffic (photo by Nadezhda1906)
Fast-growing airlines such as Emirates have boosted Middle East traffic (photo by Nadezhda1906)

Global air passenger traffic increased 3.2% in April 2013, led by growth in the world’s emerging regions.

According to the latest data from IATA, strong demand for flights in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa was the driving factor behind the global growth, as European and North American demand faltered.

While the monthly results were partially affected by the timing of the Easter holidays (March this year, compared to April in 2012), the growth of traffic on Middle East carriers was the global highlight. The region’s airlines saw passenger traffic jump 10.9% compared to April 2012 – by far the strongest among all the regions, driven by airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways adding extra capacity into the market.

African airlines also saw strong growth, with traffic rising 4.7%, while Latin American demand was up 4.6%.

By contrast, passenger demand in the Asia Pacific region climbed at a rate of just 2.4%, a result IATA attributed to seasonal affects and a dip in business confidence in China. Europe’s traffic climbed 2.0% year-on-year, while North American demand fell 0.5%.

“Passenger demand continued to grow in April, extending the positive trend that has been developing since late 2012. The increase however, is concentrated in emerging markets,” said IATA’s director-general & CEO, Tony Tyler. “While economic developments in Europe and the US certainly bear watching, most indicators continue to signal further expansion in air travel.”

The US domestic air sector was healthier, rising 1.1% last month, while Australian traffic rose 3.8% and Brazil increased 3.4%. China’s 10.6% expansion appears strong, but IATA noted that it was significantly down on the 16.6% growth seen in March 2012, suggesting “sluggishness in the service and manufacturing sectors”.

Japan and India’s domestic markets continued to struggle, with demand falling 1.1% and 0.3% respectively.

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