ACI World has released the latest World Airport Traffic Report showing passenger growth resilience despite global uncertainty.
Passenger numbers are estimated to have reached 8.8 billion in 2018, an increase of +6.4% compared to the previous year. In addition, the world’s airports accommodated 122.7 million tonnes of cargo and almost 100 million aircraft movements.
While advanced economies held the largest proportion (52.8%) of global passenger traffic, airport traffic in emerging markets and developing economies grew faster (+8.3%) than in advanced economies (+4.8%) in 2018.
In ACI’s view, protectionist policies, a slowing global economy and geopolitical tensions represent the most pressing downside risks over the near-term for continued growth. In addition, physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure continue to pose challenges in accommodating future demand.
Despite this, passenger traffic has remained resilient, posting annual growth rates above historical averages with the cost of travel decreasing in many markets and middle-class populations burgeoning in emerging markets.
While growth moderated slightly compared to 2017, passenger traffic remained resilient in the face of the global uncertainties affecting many major economies. The 2018 increase is still above the +5.8% compounded average annual growth rate for passenger traffic from 2010 through 2018.
The report found that the air cargo market did not fare as well as passenger traffic in 2018. Global year-over-year volume fell -1.7% in December 2018, against the previous year, bringing growth for 2018 overall to +3.4%.
“If these isolationist policies persist, their adverse effects will continue to stifle output growth in many countries,” says ACI World director general, Angela Gittens. “Economies that rely more on exports or carry higher debt loads will be most sensitive to a downturn, further exacerbating economic conditions.
“In fact, ACI data shows that global passenger traffic growth was subdued in the first half of 2019 with a moderate increase of +3.6% year-over-year, so it is apparent the global economic slowdown is having an impact on aviation markets.
“Air cargo has felt an even greater impact as volumes handled by the world’s major airports contracted by -3.2% in the first half of 2019. A resolution to the trade disputes will help put aviation markets back on track.”
Even with these short-term challenges, however, ACI World’s global medium-term forecast show almost 30% growth in passenger numbers from 2018 to 2023. Over the longer term, passenger traffic worldwide is expected to double in 17 years and projected to grow at an annualised rate of +4.1%, reaching 20.9 billion by 2040.
ACI’s flagship publication remains the authoritative source and industry reference for airport traffic data, rankings and trends for over 2,500 airports in 180 countries worldwide.
It provides a view of air transport demand across the world’s airports by three thematic areas: passengers, cargo (freight and mail) and aircraft movements. International and domestic traffic breakdowns are also presented in this publication. It can be previewed and purchased on the ACI World publication webpage.
The world’s airports are taking action now to prepare to meet this demand by improving security, efficiency and facilitation across the entire passenger journey.
As a result, ACI has relaunched its transformative Smart Security programme, which aims to improve passenger and cabin baggage screening at airports worldwide.
The relaunched Smart Security programme, led by ACI, forms an integral part of this global effort by bringing together innovation and collaboration between global airports, regulators and airlines.
ACI is developing its Vision 2040 for air transport security and Smart Security will be central to this vision. It will define the future of passenger and cabin baggage screening, identify improvements and solutions that can be introduced now, and communicate these solutions to airports around the world so they can be adopted swiftly.
Smart Security will continue to deliver strengthened security through making better use of existing and emerging technology, increased efficiency and the better flow and movement of passengers and baggage.
Ultimately, it aims to deliver a walk-through, seamless passenger experience at airport security touchpoints and move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
ACI has also launched a new visual identity for the Smart Security programme to reflect its new vision and airport focus.