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23 May 2017   March 2017: Passengers up 8% and 2% respectively in Asia-Pacific and Middle East

[May 23, 2017 – Hong Kong] Passengers traveling through the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern airports in March 2017 grew by +7.6% and +2.3% respectively compared to the same period last year. For the first quarter, Asia-Pacific passenger traffic grew by +8.1% and the Middle East +4.9%.


In India, the pace of increase in domestic passenger traffic continued to moderate. March 2017 was the second consecutive month where overall growth in India was below 20% since June 2016. Despite that, a number of Indian airports managed to generate significant growth in the month: Goa (GOI) +26.4%, Calcutta (CCU) +23%, Hyderabad (HYD) +20.8%.


In China, robust domestic passenger travel fueled growth in many airports in March 2017. Shijiazhuang (SJW) led this month with substantial increase of +41.2%, followed by Tianjin (TSN) +20.1% and Nanchang (KHN) +17%. Elsewhere in the region, Kuala Lumpur (KUL) maintained its momentum of recovery from a period of slow growth since 2014 and delivered an increase of +14.6%.


In the Middle East, passenger traffic growth in March 2017 was impacted by the timing of the Easter holiday that fell in March last year; resulting in slower growth observed in major transit hubs such as Dubai (DXB) +3.8% and Doha (DOH) +5%. The exception was Muscat (MCT) where it continued to grow at a fast pace at +16.7%. 


Overall in the first quarter, passenger traffic growth maintained strength. Domestic travel in India showed signs of moderation but overall growth continued to be solid. Whereas airports in China pursued growth in both international and domestic passenger traffic. With Easter holiday falling in April this year, traffic in the Middle East is expected to get a boost going into the second quarter.


In terms of air freight, Asia-Pacific grew +13% while the Middle East grew +15.5% in March 2017. For the year to date, the two regions gained 10.7% and 10.2% respectively from last year.


With broad improvement in world trade conditions and business confidence, both regions reported strong air freight volume growth in March 2017. In the Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong (HKG) continued to be the top air freight hub and delivered year-on-year growth of +17.8%, followed by Shanghai Pudong (PVG) +15% and Seoul Incheon (ICN) +13.5%. In the Middle East, the largest hub Dubai (DXB) grew +8.4% and Doha (DOH) remained the fasting growing hub in the region at +25%.


Overall, air freight delivered a very strong first quarter for year-on-year growth. Among the top 10 freight airports in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East combined, 7 recorded double-digit growth for the quarter. The return of a growth dynamic for air freight provides optimism for the sector going into the second quarter.



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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