World air travellers top 4bn in 2017

Planes at Suvarnabhumi airport on March 1 this year. Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region carried the largest number of passengers in 2017, or 1.5 billion passengers, marking a 10.6% increase from 2016. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

GENEVA: Worldwide annual air passengers exceeded 4 billion for the first time in 2017 amid a global economic recovery and lower airfares, with airlines in the Asia-Pacific region leading the growth, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The IATA said Thursday 4.1 billion passengers flew last year, up 7.3% from 2016, or an additional 280 million trips. Increases in direct flight services between cities have cut costs and travel time for travellers and shippers, making flights more attractive, it added.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region carried the largest number of passengers with a 36.3% market share, or 1.5 billion passengers, marking a 10.6% increase from 2016. They were followed by European and North American counterparts carrying 1.1 billion and 941.8 million, respectively.

All top five international or regional passenger airport pairs were within the Asia-Pacific. Hong Kong-Taipei flights lead the pack with 5.4 million passengers, followed by Jakarta-Singapore flights carrying 3.3 million and Bangkok-Hong Kong 3.1 million.

The top five domestic passenger airport pairs were all in the Asia-Pacific as well. The Jeju-Seoul pair ranked first with 13.5 million, up about 15% from 2016, and Melbourne-Sydney ranked second with 7.8 million.

Japanese airport pairs ranked third and fourth, with 7.6 million passengers flying between Fukuoka and Tokyo and 7.4 million taking the Sapporo-Tokyo route. Beijing-Shanghai rounded out the top five with 6.4 million.

The IATA based in Montreal represents some 290 airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic. It also has executive offices in Geneva.

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