2011 global traffic off to a strong start – ACI

Monday, 21 March 2011 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Airport Council International (ACI) member airports report total global passenger traffic growth of 7.1 percent in January 2011, with strong support from the international market (+7.8%) as well as good performance in the domestic sector (+6.5%).

Europe, the largest international market, registered 8.3 percent growth compared to January 2010 and Asia Pacific, the second largest, rose by 9 percent. Both had strong domestic travel as well, with Asia Pacific up by 11.2 percent and Europe by 6.6 percent. Latin America and Africa saw balanced growth in both markets, but with strongest expansion in domestic traffic (Africa +7.6%; Latin America +9.7%). The Middle East had total traffic growth of 8.6 percent. North America, the largest domestic market worldwide rose by 1.7 percent.

Freight traffic saw a similar pattern of strong Asia Pacific and European results, contributing to the global growth of 6.8 percent. The month on month averages indicate that the decline in freight traffic seen in Q3 has been replaced by a firming trend (see charts on the following pages). Asia Pacific’s international freight rose by 9 percent and domestic by 12 percent and Europe international increased by 11.4 percent. Latin America had the strongest increase in domestic traffic (+16%), whereas North America, the largest domestic market, remained flat (-0.8%).

Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World, speaking to over 200 delegates at ACI’s annual Airport Economics & Finance Conference in London this week, emphasized the implications of sustained traffic development for airports worldwide.

She said, “Traffic growth is clearly on the rise. Emerging markets are buoyant, and we also now see that mature markets are returning to real growth compared to the pre-crisis levels. Although all markets are not progressing at the same rate, the global imperative is clear: airports must prepare to handle twice as many passengers in just twenty years.

 “For capital-intensive infrastructure development, 20 years is a short time-frame to plan, finance and build new facilities to accommodate growth. Airports are taking action to maximise efficient use of current facilities, working closely with our airline and air navigation service partners to implement new technologies and agreed standards that streamline passenger and cargo handling processes as well as enhance airside operations.

That will not be sufficient to absorb twice as many arriving and departing passengers.”  Addressing the financing needs of airports, Gittens commented, “Future development is not without challenges. Against today’s backdrop of cautious investors and tight financial markets, airports must also meet short-term demands for profitability in an increasingly entrepreneurial environment. They must pay back their long-term debt while keeping a focus on future expansion needs. At the same time, airports must contend with short-term shifts in airline schedules and frequencies and compete fiercely with other airports for new routes and air services. That is why we also call on civil aviation authorities to ensure that their regulatory framework allows greater inherent flexibility in terms of economic policies and oversight.   “We need the ability to shape solutions in a commercial setting, which is better suited to today’s aviation business environment. Partner collaboration across the system opens the way for service quality improvements as well as the industry stability that attracts long term investment.”