Air passenger traffic grows in January 2016

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

aciAirports Council International announced overall passenger traffic growth by 6.9% in January 2016 compared to the same month last year.

The plunge in global oil prices coincided with a rapid fall in global inflation expectations, in addition to a much slower pace of economic growth in China and the rest of the major emerging markets. Nevertheless, when compared to more mature markets, many emerging market economies performed well, thereby stimulating growth in passenger traffic.


During the first month of 2016, Africa experienced a decline in total passenger traffic of 3.2%. The two largest passenger markets, South Africa and Egypt, are pulling the regional figure in opposite directions; while South Africa grew by 11.6%, Egypt lost over a quarter of its traffic as compared to January 2015.


Asia-Pacific demonstrated strong total passenger traffic growth in January 2016 at +10.6% year-over-year. The two major markets of China and India showed robust growth of 11.2% and 16.4% respectively. Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore also grew by double digits at 14.7%, 12.3%, 13.3% and 10% respectively. The mature markets of Japan and Australia showed lower yet impressive growth of 5.4% and 5.7% respectively. At the individual airport level, notable growth has been recorded at Delhi (DEL, +21%), Shanghai-Pudong (PVG, +20.5%), Seoul-Incheon (ICN, +13.7%), Hong Kong (HKG, +13.3%) and Singapore (SIN, +10%). Jakarta (CGK) is the only major airport in the region posting a traffic decline (-1.8%).


In Europe the year started with a 5.8% increase in total passenger traffic. While Germany and the United Kingdom grew by 4.6% and 4.7% respectively, major commercial airports in Spain demonstrated stronger growth of 12.4%. Turkey and Italy (+6.5% and +4.5%) were performing better than France (+1.7%), and Russia posted a traffic loss of 3.1%.

A number of airports in the region reported substantial traffic growth, namely Istanbul-Sabiha Gokcen (SAW, +19.3%), Dublin (DUB, +17.1%), Barcelona (BCN, +14.3%), Copenhagen (CPH, +12.9%), Madrid (MAD, +11.7%) and Amsterdam (AMS, +10.4%). Notably, longstanding hubs London-Heathrow (LHR), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Frankfurt (FRA) reported only marginal growth of 1%, 0.4% and 2.2% respectively, while Istanbul-Ataturk (IST) grew modestly by 2.8%.

With regard to the domestic and international breakdown at the country level, most countries have comparable growth rates in both traffic categories with the exception of Russian airports, where the 20% drop in international traffic as compared to January 2015 has not been offset by a strong growth in domestic traffic (+12.3%). In the United Kingdom, a drop in domestic traffic (-2.1%) was offset by 5% growth in international traffic. In Italy, international traffic grew at 6.5%, with domestic traffic posting growth of just 1.1%. 

Latin America-Caribbean

In the Latin America-Caribbean region, total passenger traffic grew by a modest 2.4% during the first month of 2016. At the individual country level, the results are mixed; while Brazil experienced a passenger traffic decline of 7.1% at its major airports, the other two major passenger markets—Mexico and Colombia—grew by 11.4% and 9% respectively. These results are consistent with the trend observed at the end of 2015. The three largest airports in the region—Sao Paulo (GRU, -3.8%), Mexico City (MEX, +10.2%) and Bogota (BOG, +6%)—saw mixed results.

Middle East

Consistent with its performance last year, the Middle East market exhibited high total passenger growth in January 2016 with a solid 9.8% driven by international traffic (+10.4%). The three major aviation hubs—Dubai (DXB), Doha (DOH) and Abu Dhabi (AUH)—reported year-over-year growth rates of 6.3%, 19.2% and 14.1% respectively. Substantial progress was also recorded at Muscat (MCT, +20%), Sharjah (SHJ, +11.2%) and Tel-Aviv (TLV, +7.9%).

North America

North America continues to demonstrate high growth in total passenger traffic (+6%) consistent with last year's trend. The US is growing faster than Canada (+6.5% versus +2.9%), and international traffic is growing faster than domestic traffic (+6.2% versus +6%). The three largest US airports—Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX) and Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)—grew by 6.3%, 9.6% and 7.7% respectively. A number of other airports demonstrated high growth, namely Orlando (MCO, +12.6%), Boston (BOS, +11.1%) and Seattle (SEA, +9.9%).


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