The Middle East recorded the strongest increase in the world for passenger traffic in 2007, said the Airports Council International (ACI).
While the region witnessed a 17.6 per cent rise in international traffic, the total increase amounted to 16.5 per cent, ACI said, adding that the UAE added maximum impetus to this growth.
The ACI released its preliminary results for 2007, based on the regular monthly reports of total traffic from more than 870 airports and international reporting from more than 580 airports.
“We see some very good news in these figures. The remarkable spurt of growth in international passenger and freight traffic made 2007 a banner year for air transport, particularly in thriving new markets in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa,” said Robert J Aaronson, Director General of ACI.
“Even the mature markets in North America and Europe saw excellent growth in the international sector. Among the countries with the strongest increases were the UAE, India, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Spain, Poland and Russia,” he added.
Meanwhile, owing to robust demand on international routes worldwide, total global traffic witnessed a 6.4 per cent increase in overall 2007 passenger numbers.
With the exception of Latin America, international traffic outstripped domestic in every region with airports reporting an 8.2 per cent increase in international passenger numbers, said ACI.
But while 2007 proved to be good year, ACI cautions against a number of external factors that would come into play in 2008.
“That may present a much more sedate picture,” said Aaronson.
“Last quarter traffic growth rates were moderate across all regions, with the slowest growth in December, the consequence of diverse factors such as financial market instability, high fuel prices, currency devaluations and air carrier restructuring,” he added.
He added: “We will be carefully watching the monthly traffic results during the first half of 2008 to see if persistent economic and business trends are developing that could have a lasting impact on demand.
“In a potentially volatile environment, it is all the more critical for airports, air navigation service suppliers and airlines to work closely together to anticipate real growth needs and plan accordingly for a sustainable future,” he said.
Middle East leads in air passenger traffic