Published on : Saturday, June 18, 2016
According to the latest statistics from Airports Council International, global airport passenger traffic increased by 3.4% in April 2016, while international passenger traffic grew faster than the domestic segment (3.8% versus 3.3% respectively). Total passenger traffic grew by 6.2% for the first four months of 2016 as compared to the previous year.
Passenger traffic declines in Africa and Latin America-Caribbean (-6.8% and -3% respectively) were coupled with more modest growth of 2.4% in North America and Europe. Asia-Pacific and the Middle East remain the two major driving forces of passenger traffic growth, demonstrating robust 7.3% and 9.7% growth respectively.
Passenger traffic losses in Africa continue to persist. Egypt and Tunisia experienced declines in total passenger traffic of 31.2% and 13.7% respectively in April 2016, the result of aviation security concerns in the major tourist markets of the region. The two airports with the most significant losses in passenger traffic were Sharm el Sheikh (SSH, -78%, representing a year-over-year drop of 480,000 passengers) and Hurghada (HRG, -66% or – 463 thousand passengers). Unfortunately, passenger traffic gains in South Africa (+3.8%) and Nigeria (+5.1%) could not offset the losses in the north.
In Asia-Pacific, all major markets demonstrated robust growth in passenger traffic. China, Japan and India—the three largest aviation markets—grew by 6.4%, 4.9% and 17.5% respectively. The other major players in the region—Australia, Thailand and Korea—also demonstrated robust growth of 4.3%, 10.9% and 7.4% respectively. Indonesia remained stagnant with only 1.5% growth, the result of traffic losses at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK). At the airport level, the highest growth was observed at Delhi (DEL, +20.8% or +764,000 passengers), Tokyo-Haneda (HND, +9.7% or +534,000 passengers) and Nanjing (NKG, +28.5% or + 492,000 passengers). Significant growth was also observed in Bangkok-Don Mueang (DMK, +17.9% or +450,000 passengers), Shanghai-Pudong (PVG, +8.2% or +411,000 passengers) and Singapore (SIN, +9.2% or +402,000 passengers).
Spain, at 7% growth in passenger traffic, is approaching traffic levels at the two major aviation markets in Europe, the United Kingdom and Germany, which grew by 1.1% and 3% respectively during the same period. Major airports in France grew by 5.4% in terms of total passenger traffic, while Italy remained flat (0.1%), and Turkey and the Russian Federation lost 3% and 4.4% of their traffic respectively. At the airport level, significant growth was observed at Amsterdam (AMS, +10.1% or +480,000 passengers), partly due to traffic transfer from Brussels, Barcelona (BCN, +8.7% or +291,000 passengers) and Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF, +34.2% or +229,000 passengers). Brussels (BRU), which was affected by the terrorist attack on 22 March 2016 lost almost half of its passenger traffic in April (-46.6% or -935,000 passengers).
Brazil, the largest aviation market in Latin America and the Caribbean, lost 13% of its traffic on a year-over-year basis, testifying to the sharp contraction of the national economy. Mexico remains the only strong and stable source of passenger traffic growth (+5.8%) in the region, while Colombia is slowing down to 2.1% growth, comparable to that seen in Argentina (+1.7%). In Chile, where the economy has grown faster than forecasted, passenger traffic grew strongly by 7.3%. At the individual airport level the highest growth was observed at Santiago (SCL, +8.7% or +111,000 passengers), Mexico City (MEX, +3.5% or +108,000 passengers) and Lima (LIM, +7.1% or + 92,000 passengers).
In the Middle East, all major aviation markets demonstrated robust growth. Passenger traffic in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar grew by 7.5% and 20.2% respectively. Doha (DOH) has continued to maintain momentum, and is the fastest-growing airport in the region (+20.2% or +507,000 passengers), followed closely by Dubai (DXB, +7.2% or + 468,000 passengers).
The two aviation markets of North America—the United States and Canada—grew by 2.5% and 0.7% respectively in terms of total passenger traffic. Notable growth was observed at Los Angeles (LAX, +6.2% or +367,000 passengers), Seattle (SEA, +11.2% or +361,000 passengers) and Atlanta (ATL, +3.5% or + 295,000 passengers), while New York-La Guardia (LGA) lost 10% of its traffic (-241,000 passengers).
Global trends in air freight are less optimistic as compared to air passenger markets. Worldwide, air freight volumes grew by only 1% for the month of April. In Asia-Pacific, air freight grew by only 1.3%, while in Europe growth was more robust at 5.4%. Nevertheless, many of the world’s freight hubs contracted vis-à-vis 2015 (total air freight contraction on a year-to-date basis of 0.1%). Out of top 20 air freight hubs, 7 airports reported growth rates of 1% or less. Because air freight is highly concentrated, with the top 20 air freight hubs occupying almost half of global volumes, this weak growth among the major airports pulls down the global growth figure.
In Europe, significant air freight volume losses were observed at Istanbul-Atatürk (IST, -5.5% or -3,800 tonnes), Paris-Orly (ORY, -17.7% or -2,000 tonnes) and Izmir (ADB, -76.2% or -1,800 tonnes). Air freight declines in Asia-Pacific were more pronounced at Jakarta (CGK, -35.2% or -17,000 tonnes) and Kuala-Lumpur (KUL, -15.6% or -10,000 tonnes). In Latin America-Caribbean, consistent with macro-economic realities, the largest air freight volume declines were observed at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão (GIG, -44.3% or -3,900 tonnes) and Viracopos (VCP, -14.1% or -2,200 tonnes) in Brazil. In the Middle East, despite the robust air freight growth of 4.9% of the region as a whole and impressive growth of 19.1% (+22,600 tonnes) at Doha (DOH), growth at Dubai (DXB, +4.8% or +9,700 tonnes) was offset by air freight declines at Sharjah (SHJ, -19.9% or -3,200 tonnes) and Abu Dhabi (AUH, -10.8% or -7,900 tonnes). At the country level, the three largest air freight markets balance each other out: while estimates point to an increase in air freight traffic of 3.7% in the United States, it grew by 3% in China and remained flat in Japan at 0.3%. Germany and India remain promising with 4.6% and 4.5% growth in air freight volumes respectively.