Total outbound consumer air travel grew by 5.9% in 2018 with the Americas notching particularly impressive international pax growth returns, research from ForwardKeys suggests.
Unsurprisingly, growth from Asia Pacific outstripped its regional counterparts, with departures between Asia Pacific countries up 9.6% and domestic travel lifting by 14%.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “The growth in international air traffic within Asia Pacific is a direct consequence of increasing disposable incomes, urbanisation and more dynamic lifestyles.
“As the middle classes of large urban centres – especially in China – have more money in their pockets and a growing appetite for travel, they fly more often, initially within their own continent, and then further afield. They have become a major driver of leisure and business travel worldwide.”
AMERICAS: BUOYANT INTL. PAX
The Asia Pacific result was more than three times stronger than that recorded in the Middle East, where flight departures grew by 2.8% owing to pressures from the ongoing blockade of Qatar, although domestic travel recorded double-digit growth.
At +5.8%, European air travel growth was roughly on par with the global average, while international travel within Europe rose by 7%.
Meanwhile, flight departures from Africa and the Americas rose by 5.2% and 4.4%, respectively.
In contrast to trends seen in other continents, the Americas increased its trips to other international territories by 7.1% – outpacing growth in its domestic travel market at +4%.
The Middle East notched the highest level of intercontinental departures from Europe at +5.8%, helped by easing security concerns in Egypt.
In Africa, domestic trips were down by 0.9%, but international air travel to other African countries jumped by 6.6%, with trips to other continents even more attractive at +7.8%.
Ponti added: “The travel & tourism industry continues to grow strongly, outstripping the growth in global GDP, enhancing prosperity and creating jobs.
“Yet another year of strong growth in air travel will put pressure on governments worldwide to invest in infrastructure to better manage the consumer’s growing appetite to travel.”
ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17m flight booking transactions per day, plus other aviation data.