The downward spiral for passenger traffic eased, but remained negative in October 2008. International traffic growth was down by a milder 1.4 percent relative to October 2007, whereas global traffic remained depressed at -3.4 percent due to poor domestic results worldwide down on average by 5 percent. The first ten months of the year is flat at -0.6 percent.
Global freight growth results are poor. Total freight handled worldwide in October 2008 declined by 7 percent compared to October 2007 with international freight falling by 8 percent and domestic tonnage dropping by 5 percent. The first ten months of 2008 showed total freight was down by 0.3 percent, with international freight rising by a mild 1.2 percent while domestic freight dropped by 3.6 percent.
ACI Director of Economics Andreas Schimm comments, “The outlook for the immediate future remains bleak. The few positive international results are likely to be compromised in the next months by the tragic events in Mumbai and the siege of the airports in Bangkok, dragging down the Asia-Pacific region's performance. The world's major economies have gone into recession with repercussions on the economies of emerging countries, trade and employment. Against this complex background, signs of a sustainable recovery will be a long time coming."
Bright spots this month include strong international passenger results in Africa (+7 %) and Middle East (+ 15%). The holy month of Ramadan accounts in part for the milder increase in September in the Middle East, which is now back on track, bolstered by double digit increases in the Gulf airports and Lebanon.
In Asia-Pacific, domestic traffic grew by 1 percent as a strong rebound within China helped compensate for the continued declines in India. A solid increase in international passengers in India and Beijing could not terminate the overall downward trend in the region of -3 percent.
Traffic in the Latin America-Caribbean region dropped considerably, both for international (-2%) and domestic traffic (-9%). Europe too has seen a decline of 4 percent, the combined result of a falling domestic (-9 %) and international (-3%) traffic. Overall traffic was down 6 percent in North America, as a result of similar domestic (-7%) and international (-3%) performance. (Table 2 summarises regional passenger traffic results).
Regional freight results (summarized in Table 3) are dominated by stark drops in the largest international markets (Asia-Pacific -8% and Europe -5.6%) and the largest domestic market (North America -8.7%).
The economic impacts of the crisis on the airport industry will be a central topic at ACI’s first Airport Economics and Finance Conference in London on 10 and 11 February 2009.