The aviation industry handled a record 4.1 billion passengers on scheduled air services last year, marking a 7.1 percent increase over 2016 and robust air cargo demand, according to preliminary figures released on Wednesday, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
According to the Montreal-based UN agency, set to release finalized data in July, traffic growth and profitability are expected to keep the momentum this year in view of World Bank forecasts of a better economic climate.
Meanwhile, demand for air travel is growing supported by improving global economic conditions. As a result, lower air fares due to lower fuel costs also continued to stimulate traffic growth. Import and export orders also increased with air cargo demonstrating a strong rebound in 2017.
“The sustainability of the tremendous growth in international civil air traffic is demonstrated by the continuous improvements to its safety, security, efficiency and environmental footprint,” said ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.
Budget carriers grew at a faster pace, increasing their market share and serving an estimated 1.2 billion passengers in 2017, or 30 percent of the world total of scheduled passengers. In Europe, budget airlines accounted for 33 percent of total passengers, followed by Asia/Pacific and North America with 31 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Airlines meanwhile, maintained their operating profit nearly at the same levels as in 2016.
International scheduled passenger traffic grew by 8.0 percent in 2017, up from the 7.8 percent recorded in 2016. All regions recorded stronger growth than a year before.