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30 November 2016   Passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific and Middle East grew 10% and 12% in September 2016

[November 30, 2016 – Hong Kong] In September 2016, Asia-Pacific and Middle East delivered passenger traffic increase at +9.8% and +11.9% respectively. For the year-to-date, both Asia-Pacific and Middle East grew +10%.


In Asia-Pacific, domestic passenger travels continued to stimulate growth in India. Many airports reported growth in excess of 20% in September 2016 compared to the same month last year. Top runners include: Calcutta (CCU) +29.8, New Delhi (DEL) +24.1% and Hyderabad (HYD) +24%.


In China and South Korea, growth in the current month was largely driven by gains in international passengers. Nanjing (NKG) led growth in China at +19.5% whereas Busan (PUS) and Seoul Incheon (ICN) led in South Korea at around +20%. In Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KUL) appeared to be gaining momentum and delivered an increase of +15.4% in September recovering from a period of slow growth since 2014.


In the Middle East, Doha (DOH) and Muscat (MCT) were in leading positions reporting passenger traffic increase at +22.6% and +17.1% respectively for the month. The largest hub in the region, Dubai (DXB) also generated double-digit growth at +10.3%.


For the first nine months in 2016, overall passenger traffic growth in both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East remained strong. With both India and China pushing to expand connectivity in domestic and international markets, and low cost carriers continue to stimulate demand in various markets; these give signs of optimism for the sector heading into the last quarter of 2016 against the backdrop of fragile economic conditions.


Regarding air freight, despite global trade growth remaining weak, in September 2016 Asia-Pacific generated robust growth at +6.7% whereas the Middle East increased at +3.1%. For the year-to-date, Asia-Pacific and Middle East grew +2.5% and +4.1% respectively.


In Asia-Pacific, the surge in volume in September was contributed in part by the strengthening of international freight market, and one-time factor such as the release and replacement of mobile devices such as the iPhone 7 and Galaxy Note 7. The top three freight hubs all delivered robust increase: Hong Kong (HKG) +7.2%, Shanghai Pudong (PVG) +7.4% and Seoul Incheon +8.1%.


The results in the Middle East were mixed in September, air freight volumes at the largest hub Dubai (DXB) shrank 1% while Doha (DOH) continued to expand at a fast pace at +16.3%.


For the first nine months, overall air freight growth in Asia-Pacific improved gradually, especially in the third quarter where the sector experienced strong international air freight demand. On the other hand, the signals were mixed in the Middle East, while some markets appeared to be slowing down gradually for instance in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar remained a bright spot where robust growth continued to be observed.


TABLE 1:  Airports reporting highest preliminary year-on-year traffic growth rates in September 2016 1


Top 3 airports by size category2



> 40M

25M to 40M

15M to 25M

5M to 15M


Beijing (PEK) +8.5%

Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) +4.2%

Kansai (KIX) +1.8%

Phuket (HKT) +23%

Hong Kong (HKG) 


Dubai (DXB) +10.3%

Manila (MNL) +5%

Seoul Gimpo (GMP) +7.9%

Busan (PUS) +20.2%

Shanghai Pudong (PVG) +7.4%

Tokyo Haneda (HND) +1.9%

Tokyo Narita (NRT) +4%

Abu Dhabi (AUH) +5%

Osaka Itami (ITM) +3.3%

Seoul Incheon (ICN) +8.1%


 Note :


  1. ACI preliminary passenger and freight statistics are based on a significant sample of airports that provide regular monthly reports to ACI. They represent approximately 60% of total passenger traffic and 70% of total freight traffic worldwide. Commentary, tables and charts are based on preliminary data submitted by participating airports and are therefore subject to change.


  1. Size categories refer to the annual passenger traffic (in the last 12 months)


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