All the more people are traveling according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which said on Thursday that demand for air travel grew by 6.3 percent in 2016 and underlined the need for governments to work with the industry to meet that demand and avoid actions that ”choke” growth.
Presenting its full-year global passenger traffic results for 2016, IATA noted that the positive performance was well ahead of the estimated 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent.
The Geneva-based body which works with 265 member airlines for safe, secure, efficient and sustainable global air transport links, said December was a top performer posting an 8.8 percent rise in demand.
“Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a 44 dollar fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible,’’ said IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.
”As a result, a record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination. Demand for air travel is still expanding. The challenge for governments is to work with the industry to meet that demand with infrastructure that can accommodate the growth, regulation that facilitates growth and taxes that don’t choke growth. If we can achieve that, there is plenty of potential for a safe, secure and sustainable aviation industry to create more jobs and increase prosperity.”
Benefitting from an improvement in the second half of the year, European carriers’ international traffic increased by 4.8 percent in 2016 with capacity up by 5.0 percent.
Middle East airlines posted the strongest regional annual traffic growth for the fifth year running, consolidating the region’s position as the third-largest market for international passengers.
Asia Pacific carriers saw demand increase by 8.3 percent compared to 2015, the second-fastest rise among the regions.
North American airlines recorded a 2.6 percent rise in demand in 2016 with most of the growth posted in the second quarter.
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 7.4 percent in 2016 with capacity up 4.8 percent.
African carriers demonstrated the best growth performance since 2012, up by 7.4 percent thanks to strong demand on routes to/from Asia and the Middle East.
Domestic air travel, meanwhile, rose by 5.7 percent in 2016 with capacity up by 5.1 percent. India and China were the stand-out performers with RPK expansion of 23.3 percent and 11.7 percent respectively thanks to additional routes and increasing flight frequencies.
“Our freedom to connect through air travel drives prosperity and enriches societies. That freedom can only be given its fullest expression when governments facilitate the movement of people and goods… Aviation is the business of freedom. And we must defend its social and economic benefits from barriers to travel and protectionist agendas,” said de Juniac.
At the same time, IATA released data for global air freight markets showing that demand also grew by 3.8 percent in 2016 compared to 2015 — nearly double the industry’s average growth rate of 2.0 percent over the last five years. Carriers in Europe accounted for almost half of the total annual increase in demand.