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International Civil Aviation Organization

ICAO forecasts growth of the world airline passenger traffic

Following a year of decline in 2001 and two successive years of stagnation, world airline passenger traffic is…

Following a year of decline in 2001 and two successive years of stagnation, world airline passenger traffic is forecast to rebound with 4.4 per cent growth in 2004 and to continue to expand at 6.3 per cent in 2005, according to the latest forecasts prepared by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In 2001, total (domestic and international) scheduled passenger traffic, measured in terms of passenger-kilometres performed (PKPs), fell by 2.9 per cent as a result of a slowing world economy and the events of 11 September. These effects continued into 2002 and were intensified by the build up to war in Iraq; traffic in that year grew only marginally, by 0.4 per cent. Traffic fell in the first part of 2003 because of the war and particularly the impact of concerns regarding Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Recovery is now under way and traffic for 2003 is expected to be about the same as in 2002 on year-on-year basis.

Total scheduled passenger traffic generated by airlines based in ICAO`s 188 Contracting States was 3,017 billion PKPs in 2000, dropped to just under 2 930 billion PKPs in 2001, stayed at that level in 2002 and is expected to remain there for 2003. Traffic is expected to rise to about 3,100 billion PKPs in 2004 and about 3,300 billion PKPs in 2005.

Traffic development will vary by geographical region because of the impact of local, intra- and inter- regional factors. Traffic development of both North American and European carriers is stabilizing, with an expected zero growth in 2003 before recovery gets fully under way in 2004 and 2005. North American carriers were hardest hit by the shrinking demand following 11 September 2001, and their passenger traffic is expected to recover to year 2000 levels only by 2004. Scheduled passenger traffic of airlines based in Asia/Pacific, which were generally hardest hit by the effects on travel of SARS, is expected to decline by 0.8 per cent in 2003 but to recover at the rates of 4.9 and 6.8 per cent for the years 2004 and 2005. Carriers of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America/Caribbean are forecast to achieve moderate passenger traffic growth in 2003, with increased growth from 2004 onwards.

The ICAO forecasts assume gradual restoration of passenger confidence in international travel, improved application and facilitation of aviation security measures, an improving world economy and a stable operating environment. In the longer term, global scheduled passenger traffic growth can be expected to proceed at an average annual rate of around 4 per cent, slightly lower than pre-2001 trend projections and with about a three year time lag.

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