It points out that the figure would have been even higher if this year's Lunar New Year, which fell in February, had taken place in January like it did in 2017.
Higher passenger traffic was expected during this holiday, considered the world’s greatest annual migration of people, so year-on-year figures for February are expected to show a significant increase as a result.
As to global freight, figures maintained a high growth momentum in January, posting +8.0% increase as compared to the previous year, in line with the rolling year-end
According to ACI, passenger traffic growth was more "moderate" in January for most regions following a successful year in 2017.
International passenger traffic, which was the major driver for global traffic increases in 2017, closed the gap with domestic traffic during the period.
The two market segments grew at +5.8% and +4.3% respectively.
Globally, the mature market of Europe grew faster than other regions, posting +7.6% in total passenger traffic on a year-on-year basis.
This regained momentum drove its rolling 12-month figures to +8.6%, after a modest growth of +5.2% in December.
The region’s domestic market performed comparatively well, posting +8.7% for the month of January.
At the national level, most of Europe’s mature markets grew at a moderate pace, standing between +1.5% (United Kingdom) and +5.9% (Italy).
Three countries played an important part in the region’s high growth for the month: Turkey, still recovering from a major downturn in air traffic, grew at +28.1%, followed by the Russian Federation (+12.2).
The air transport sectors are in full recovery in these markets following a weakened state in 2017.
Asia-Pacific and North America, while still growing at a robust rate, slowed slightly during the period, respectively posting +4.4% and +3.2% year-on-year, says ACI World.
Nevertheless, Asia-Pacific’s figures are expected to rebound significantly in February as a result of the Chinese Lunar New Year. India was a significant outlier in the region's major markets in January, posting +15.3% for the month.
Africa, which has benefitted from consistently high growth in passenger traffic since recovering from a difficult macroeconomic context in April 2017, posted +11.4% year-on-year.
The region's growth was attributable to Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria, with figures of +21.7%, +16.6% and +13.1% respectively.
The Middle East fell during January, posting a slight -0.4% decline on a year-on-year basis.
With geopolitical unrest affecting a number of countries in the region, and the blockade of Qatar still upheld, slower growth is likely to continue in the mid-term.
As of the latest figures, the region’s rolling 12-month figures were still relatively robust, with +3.9% at the end of January.