Global passenger traffic increased 3.5% in February which was below the past 12-month growth trend of 5.3%, according to Airports Council International. February year-over-year traffic growth was distorted by the timing of the Chinese New Year that fell in January as opposed to February last year, and the fact that 2016 was also a leap year.
The world's airports reported a rise of 5.7% in international passenger traffic and 1.9% in domestic traffic. Accumulated total passenger traffic growth for January and February was 5.6% year-over-year.
At the regional level, the Middle East led passenger traffic growth with a robust 8.3% year-over-year increase in February, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific which reported growth of 5.5% and 5.1% respectively. Europe's higher growth rate was the result of the strengthening of several economies in the region and the continued expansion of the low cost carrier business model. Due mainly to a weak domestic market in February, North America and Latin America-Caribbean inched up their respective passenger traffic by 0.7% and 0.5%. Africa was the only region that witnessed a decline of 1.9% in passenger traffic, attributed to the ongoing weakness in the region's biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as ongoing security concerns in Egypt.
Air freight volumes surged 7.8% as compared to the previous year at the global level. International freight posted a greater growth rate than domestic freight at 9.6% and 3.1% respectively. Much of the rise is attributed to the timing of the Chinese New Year. As a result, Hong Kong (HKG), Shanghai-Pudong (PVG), Seoul-Incheon (ICN) and Tokyo-Narita (NRT) reported traffic gains of 14.1%, 20.8%, 17% and 11.9% respectively. Based on the global sample of airports, 17 of the top 20 airports in terms of air freight volumes experienced year-over-year growth for February, including Miami (MIA, 7.8%), Frankfurt (FRA, 2.2%), Doha (DOH, 24.5%), Los Angeles (LAX, 8%) and Amsterdam (AMS, 7%).