In February 2017, average passenger traffic across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East grew by +5.1% and +8.3% respectively from the same period last year.
This year-over-year traffic growth was however slightly distorted by the timing of Chinese New Year that fell in January last year; and the fact that 2016 was a leap year.
India continued to generate the highest growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region, backed by robust domestic passenger travel. However, the pace of increase in domestic passenger traffic may be moderating, as average growth in February 2017 was below 20% for the first time since June 2016 even after considering the leap year effect. Despite that, many airports continued to generate significant growth in the month: Calcutta (CCU) +25.1%, Hyderabad (HYD) +23.6%, Goa (GOI) +22.8%.
Impacted by the timing of Chinese New Year, passenger traffic growth in February 2017 was modest in the Greater China region. Tianjin (TSN) recorded the highest growth in China at +17.8%, followed by Kunming (KMG) +13.2%. Elsewhere in the region, Seoul Incheon (ICN) gained +10.9%.
In the Middle East, passenger traffic growth maintained strength, though at a slower pace. Dubai (DXB), the largest hub in the region, grew +8.8% from last year while Muscat (MCT) and Doha (DOH) led the Middle East growing at +16.5% and +10.9% respectively.
In terms of air freight, Asia-Pacific grew +14.5% while the Middle East grew +4.6% in February 2017. The substantial uptick in the Asia-Pacific was attributed to factories resuming operations after Chinese New Year. The top three freight hubs: Hong Kong (HKG) +14.1%, Shanghai Pudong (PVG) +20.8%, and Seoul Incheon (ICN) +17% all reported substantial gains. On the other hand, growth of air freight in the Middle East appeared to be easing as carriers are slowing down in network expansion. Many freight hubs suffered a decline in February 2017 with the exception of Doha (DOH) recording outstanding increase of +24.5%.
TABLE 1: Airports reporting highest preliminary year-on-year traffic growth rates in February 2017 1
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.
2. Size categories refer to the annual passenger traffic (in the last 12 months)