The number of air departures across the globe increased by 38 million, with airlines transporting in 2018 a total of 4.3 billion passengers compared to 4 billion in 2017, according to provisional data released last week by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
According to ICAO’s Chief of Communications, Anthony Philbin, air transport accounted for 35 percent of world trade by value, adding that air travel growth had eased to a solid 6.7 percent rate compared to 2017 and a rate of 7.9 percent.
“Over half of the world’s 1.4 billion tourists who traveled across international borders last year were transported by air, and that air transport now carries some 35 percent of world trade by value.”
At the same time, Philbin notes that nearly “90 percent of cross border Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce was carried by air transport”.
In the meantime, according to ICAO figures, international scheduled passenger traffic increased by 6.4 percent in 2018, down from 8.4 percent in 2017.
Data further indicated slower growth in all regions compared to 2017, with the exception of North America.
Strong travel demand driven by lower airfares has been dampened by higher fuel prices over the last two years, the ICAO said.
Growth in Europe was the second highest at 6.7 percent, making it the largest international market with a 37 percent share, followed by 6.6 percent growth in Latin America/Caribbean and 6.5 percent in Africa, accounting for the smallest RPK (Revenue passenger kilometers) share of 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, low-cost carriers (LCCs) grew at a faster pace than the world average, claiming a stronger market share transporting an estimated 1.3 billion passengers in 2018, and accounting for approximately 31 percent of the world’s total scheduled passengers.
LCCs market share was the highest in Europe, accounting for 36 percent of total passengers transported in the region.
Final ICAO figures will be released in the 2019 Annual Report of the Council.