Air Traffic Up Substantially in 2010: UN Report
In a report on trends compiled annually for its members, the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said the substantial growth in traffic reflects positive economic prospects worldwide – based on a forecast of a four per cent increase in the world’s real gross domestic product – and that total scheduled passenger traffic, both international and domestic, measured in passenger-kilometers performed, increased by about 8 percent year over year.
ICAO said that the number of passengers carried in 2010 was up 6.3 percent over 2009, at some 2.5 billion passengers, while cargo – measured in freight-ton kilometers performed – posted a dramatic jump of 18.9 percent after a sharp decline of 11 percent the previous year. The jump in cargo traffic was in with a sharp rebound in global trade and its largest increase in three decades.
International passenger traffic grew by 8.8 percent, led by a strong rebound in business and leisure long-haul travel, particularly in emerging markets such as the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – where outgoing tourism flourished, the report said.
The largest percentage growth was registered by the airlines of the Middle East with 21 percent, followed by those of the Asia/Pacific region with 12.9 percent, Latin America with 11.4 percent and Africa with 10 percent.
Traffic in the mature markets of North America and Europe grew by 6.2 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively. The lower growth figures relate to a larger traffic base and still represent significant increases.
Domestically, markets overall grew by 6.9 percent. Rates of 1.5 percent, 3.6 percent and 4 percent in North America, the Middle East and Africa respectively, were offset by rates of 15.1 percent in the Asia/Pacific region, 15.9 percent in Latin America and 12.2 percent in Europe.
The recovery in cargo traffic was led by the Asia/Pacific region, with an increase of 24.8 percent, while all regions posted double-digit growth, the highest being the Middle East at 34.1 percent.
The two major aircraft manufacturers, Boeing of the United States and the European Airbus, are expected to have delivered more than 950 new aircraft in 2010, 40 percent of them aimed replacing aircraft in mature markets. These energy-efficient planes will help reduce the carbon footprint of aviation on the environment and support efforts towards reversing climate.
Furthermore, ICAO said that based on more than 4 percent growth in the world economy for the next three years, it forecasts that passenger traffic will increase by 4.7 percent and 4.9 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Oil prices, currently above $80 per barrel, remain a potential impediment to growth, although this could be mitigated by the delivery of new and more fuel efficient aircraft.