INTERNATIONAL. Passenger traffic remained resilient last year as India became the world’s third-largest aviation market, according to new figures released by Airports Council International (ACI).

The organisation published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings during the 11thAnnual Airport Economics and Finance Conference and Exhibition, which is currently taking place in London.

Source (all charts): Airports Council International. Click to enlarge.

Passenger traffic is estimated to have reached 8.8 billion, growing 6% year-on-year. This is above the 4.3% compound annual growth rate for passenger traffic from 2007 to 2017.

India became the world’s third-largest aviation market in terms of passenger throughput, behind the US and China. ACI noted that India’s move towards a more liberalised aviation market and the nation’s strengthening economic fundamentals have helped it become one of the fastest-growing markets with its traffic rising rapidly in a relatively short time.

Passenger traffic at DXB increased by a modest 1% in 2018, after years of double-digit growth.

Passenger traffic at the world’s 20 busiest airports – representing 17% of all global passenger traffic – grew by 4.7% in 2018, as more than 1.5 billion passengers used them.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport held top place in overall traffic, handling over 107 million passengers. Beijing Airport surpassed the 100 million passenger mark in 2018, growing by 5.4% and holding on to second spot. And DXB (Dubai International) retained third position as, after years of double-digit percentage growth, traffic was up 1%.

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ACI also revealed that the top 20 airports for aircraft movements grew by 2.4% in 2018. Chicago O’Hare has surpassed Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson to become the busiest airport in the world under this measure. Both airports experienced slight declines in 2017 but recorded growth of 4.2% and 1.8% respectively for 2018.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “It is heartening to see that global passenger traffic growth has remained resilient in the face of an increasingly tense and challenging geopolitical climate.

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“Aviation is strongly linked to the global economy and to local development, however, and the protectionist rhetoric that has swept several Western countries will continue to restrain growth in the efficient flow of people, goods and services.

“With the cost of travel decreasing in many markets, and a burgeoning middle class growing in emerging markets, passenger traffic growth has remained irrepressible.

“Indeed, ACI’s global medium-term forecasts reveal growth in demand for air services between 2018 to 2023 will grow by almost 30%. This means many national governments face the predicament of demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.’’