INTERNATIONAL. Global airport passenger traffic climbed by +4.9% year-on-year in 2011, with the growth led by international passenger volumes (+6.2%). Domestic passenger traffic increased by +3.7% compared to 2010.

In December results just announced, total passenger traffic rose by +5%, with international up by +6.7% and domestic by +3.9%.

Asia Pacific airports made a big contribution to the growth figures last year. With a combined total of over 200 million passengers, the Chinese airports of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen all experienced buoyant growth in 2011.

In India and Indonesia, New Delhi and Jakarta both registered excellent growth rates for 2011 at around +20% compared to 2010. Brazilian airports also helped fuel the rise in passenger traffic growth, with Rio de Janeiro (+25.7%) and São Paulo Guarulhos (+10.7%) showing robust increases.

Despite the financial and economic slowdown in European economies, Europe as a whole recorded gains of close to +9% for 2011. While the month of April helped boost traffic comparisons (due to the ash cloud that shut down European airspace in April 2010), other sources of growth can be attributed to emerging markets within Europe such as the growing economies of Turkey and Russia. Istanbul Atatürk and Moscow Sheremetyevo airports both posted double digit gains, of +16.3% and +16.7% respectively.

ACI World’s Director of Economics Rafael Echevarne said: “Based on our latest survey results of major airports globally, 2011 was another banner year for overall passenger growth in face of the myriad of global economic risks and environmental calamities. From a global perspective, the international traveller in 2011 appears to have been immune to these manifestations.”

He added: “Air freight (which fell -0.7% in the year), on the other hand, appeared to be more elastic or sensitive to the economic situation within countries and among trading partners. As governments slowly adopt the necessary austerity measures to deleverage their balance sheets, certain economies may experience an economic slowdown in the short run thereby having an impact on international trade. However, as business confidence resumes, so will global trade in air freight.”