ACI World Statistics: Passenger Numbers ‘Robust’ – Freight Outlook ‘Mixed’

The latest industry figures (August 7) released by Airports Council International (ACI) World figures described “Robust” growth figures for passenger numbers but a “Mixed” outlook for air cargo.

Its analysis shows global passenger traffic grew by 5.6% in May on a year-over-year basis and said that while this was close to one percentage point below its year-to-date growth figure, it remains a robust demonstration of resilience considering the global climate of increasing geopolitical tension.

Freight volumes increased during the month despite comparing to a particularly favourable May 2017, reaching +5.1% year-over-year, close to their +5.3% year-to-date figures.

The report said the outlook for global air freight is currently mixed, with trade tensions and inflation up in May, but freight demand remaining robust in the near term.

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World, commented: “The air transport sector has shown remarkable resilience to the tense climate that has descended over international relations and trade.  Tensions include the ongoing Qatari blockade and the political challenges facing major Western powers including Brexit negotiations in Europe, and the shifting approach to international relations in the United States.

“The link between aviation and global macroeconomic conditions, however, remains strong, so a prolonged period of diplomatic and market instability could dampen the industry’s outlook for the near future.

“The air transport sector has shown remarkable resilience to the tense climate that looms over international relations and trade.  Economic and political pendulums continue to move in opposite directions.  On the one hand, historically low unemployment rates in the US and the European Union have helped power consumer confidence and the propensity to travel by air in such markets.  Moreover, the presence of the low-cost business model among carriers coupled with historically low jet fuel prices, have certainly acted as catalysts to stimulate air transport demand through lower fare offerings on certain market segments.  Finally, the flourishing middle class in populous countries such as India and China have certainly helped to boost traffic especially in their respective domestic markets.”

Ms Gittens concluded: “At the same time, we must be cognizant of the downside risks.  For instance, the full impact of the erected tariff walls set by major economies such as the US and China is yet to play out before our eyes.  Trade wars could potentially have a recessionary consequence on the global economy thereby jeopardizing advances in air transport demand.”