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MONTRÉAL, 18 December 2014 – Some 3.2 billion passengers used air transport for their business and tourism needs in 2014, according to preliminary figures on scheduled services released today by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The annual total passengers was up approximately 5 per cent compared to 2013 and is expected to reach over 6.4 billion by 2030, based on current projections.
Aircraft departures reached 33 million globally during 2014, establishing a new record and surpassing the 2013 figure by roughly one million flights. Solid global economic growth and improving world trade helped world scheduled passenger traffic grow at a rate of 5.9 per cent in 2014 (expressed in terms of revenue passenger-kilometres or RPKs), compared to 5.5 per cent in 2013.
The Asia/Pacific region was the world’s largest air travel market in 2014, with a 31 per cent share in terms of world RPKs. The second and third largest air travel markets were Europe and North America, representing 27 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. The Middle East Region, accounting for 9 per cent of world RPKs, recorded the fastest growth rate at 12.8 per cent. The Latin America and Caribbean Region increased by a solid 5.9 per cent while African growth registered in at 1.5 per cent.
International passenger traffic
International scheduled passenger traffic grew by 6.3 per cent in 2014, up from the 5.7 per cent recorded in 2013. With recovery in the Eurozone economy, European traffic increased by 5.7 per cent and accounted for the largest share of international RPKs with 38 per cent. Asia/Pacific had the second largest share with 27 per cent, growing by 5.8 per cent. North America was also up by 3.1 per cent, in line with its improving economic conditions.
With its combined economic strength and airline network expansion, the Middle East recorded the highest international passenger traffic growth at 13.4 per cent compared to 2013. The Latin America/Caribbean meanwhile grew by a solid 6.2 per cent despite weakness in some of its economies, and carriers in Africa experienced the slowest growth rate of 1.7 per cent.
Domestic passenger traffic
Scheduled domestic passenger traffic increased by 5.1 per cent compared to 2013, with North America and the Asia/Pacific accounting for a combined 82 per cent of worldwide domestic traffic (44 per cent for North America, 38 per cent for Asia/Pacific). The Asia/Pacific domestic market experienced the fastest growth, 7.9 per cent compared to 2013, driven mainly by Chinese airlines which accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the region’s total domestic traffic.
Overall air transport capacity, expressed in available seat-kilometres (ASKs), increased globally by 5.7 per cent in 2014. The overall passenger load factor was relatively stable compared to 2013 at 79.5 per cent. Carriers in North America achieved the highest passenger load factor in 2014, 83.5 per cent, followed by European carriers at 80.4 per cent.
World scheduled freight traffic, measured in freight tonne-kilometres (FTKs), grew strongly by 4.6 per cent in 2014, a rebound from the 0.4 per cent growth rate registered in 2013. This is a reflection of improvement in world trade. The Asia/Pacific was the world’s largest air freight market in 2014 with a 40 per cent share in terms of world FTKs. Europe and North America came in at 22 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, while Middle Eastern airlines recorded the fastest growth in freight traffic in 2014 with a growth of 11.3 per cent.
The world’s major aircraft manufacturers will have delivered approximately 1,000 new commercial aircraft by the end of 2014, with orders recorded for over 2,000 more. Together with improved air traffic flow management (ATFM) and the expanded use of performance-based navigation (PBN), these environmentally-friendly aircraft will contribute positively to the sustainability of air transport development.