Strong summer for passenger traffic; air freight perseveres in August

Posted: 10 October 2014 | ACI | No comments yet

Passenger traffic for the month of August increased by 5.3%. This was slightly above the twelve month growth trend of 4.7%…

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Passenger traffic for the month of August increased by 5.3%. This was slightly above the twelve month growth trend of 4.7%. Airports also reported an increase of 6.7% in international passenger traffic, while domestic passenger traffic increased by 4% as compared to August 2013.

European airports showed strong growth in passenger traffic in August at 7.4%. While this represents a recovery in air transport demand over the previous year for certain airports that were beleaguered by weakened economies in the Euro area in 2013, Turkish and Russian airports remain some of the major contributors to overall growth for the region. In particular, the two Russian airports based in Moscow (DME and SVO), experienced double-digit growth of over 30% in August.

Similarly, African airports also experienced a strong recovery in passenger traffic. Despite the adverse effects of the Ebola crisis on air transport in western parts of the African continent, Northern Africa has rebounded after a bleak period in passenger numbers for 2012 and 2013. From the eve of the Egyptian army-led overthrow of President Morsi to its aftermath, the tourist economy was crippled as passenger traffic dropped significantly in 2013. Cairo (CAI) and Hurghada (HRG), two of Egypt’s major airports, saw passenger traffic jump back by 24% and 76.7% respectively for the month of August. Overall African passenger traffic increased by 10.8%.

The Middle East also achieved robust growth of 9% for the month. Latin America-Caribbean, North America and Asia-Pacific had more moderate growth levels at 4.5%, 3.9% and 3.3% respectively.

Air freight continues to be in recovery mode as growth levels have risen above trend. The overall accumulated volumes for the last twelve months rose by 3.6% while August freight volumes jumped up by 5.8%. Although weakness remains in the domestic air freight markets, the trans-border shipment of air freight posted robust gains in August. International freight volumes jumped up by 7.5%. This coincides with an expansion in international trade activity and increasing business confidence.

With Brazil slipping into a recession, Latin America-Caribbean experienced a decline in volumes by 1.7% in August. That being said, all other regions achieved gains in freight volumes.

Dubai World Central (DWC), the Middle Eastern airport that is poised to surpass all other airports in terms of freight and passenger capacity, is now a major contributor to overall growth in freight volumes for the region. Although it has only recently commenced operations, in August alone air freight volumes at DWC have quintupled to over 80,000 metric tonnes as compared to the previous year. Month after month, with increased operations, DWC is moving up the ranks to be among the busiest international freight airports in the world.

Asia-Pacific also posted strong increases in volumes at 8.2% for the month of August. The world’s largest air freight hub, Hong Kong (HKG), increased volumes by 8.6% for the month. Europe and North America had more modest growth levels at 3.3% and 2.1% respectively. Africa only inched up slightly in overall freight volumes with growth of 0.5% year over year.

“Despite some of the downside risks that that have persisted in 2014, such as the heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine and the escalating geopolitical threats in the Middle East, passenger traffic has remained relatively resilient with above average growth for the month of August. Notwithstanding, the Ebola outbreak, if not contained in the short run, may further depress traffic flows beyond the existing routes to and from the affected areas,” said ACI World’s Economics Director Rafael Echevarne. “Similarly, air freight volumes also posted above average growth rates. Although growth in domestic freight volumes in Europe and North America showed weakness in August, international freight volumes showed robust growth in most regions, particularly at airports in the large exporting nations of the Asia-Pacific.”

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