Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world's airports, announced that an overall strengthening of global economic conditions and the continued drop in the cost of air transport through lower fares has helped bolster air transport demand in the first quarter of 2017. Accumulated passenger traffic grew 5.6% year-over-year for the first quarter and for the month of March.
While all regions posted solid gains during the first quarter of 2017, Asia-Pacific stood out in terms of its overall increase in domestic traffic. The region as a whole saw growth of 8.7% year-over-year for the first quarter of 2017. Air transport demand across Chinese airports remained robust. Besides strong first quarter gains at Beijing (PEK; 6.8%) and Shanghai (PVG; 7.6%)—two of the country's largest airports—Guangzhou (CAN), Chengdu (CTU) and Kunming (KMG), major airports serving the Chinese domestic market, saw passenger traffic jump 12.2%, 10.5% and 14.5% respectively. Many Indian airports also experienced double digit gains in passenger traffic. Delhi (DEL), the country's major hub, saw traffic increase 15.8% for the first quarter of 2017.
European airports continued to maintain a strong recovery on major routes from Asia to Europe despite terrorist attacks in the region during 2016. On the whole, European airports posted a gain of 7.1% during the first quarter of 2017.
Improvements in business confidence, economic outlook and global trade have helped revive air freight volumes in the first quarter of 2017. Overall freight volumes increased 8.3% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2017 and 10.9% for the month of March. This increase has coincided with an increase in export orders and inventory build-ups in key markets. At a regional level, growth was led by Africa (+15.6%) and Middle East (+15.5%), followed by very strong results from Europe (+13.7%) and Asia Pacific (+13.0%). North America (+5.9%) and Latin America-Caribbean (+4.7%) also posted robust growth for the month of March 2017.