The latest data from ForwardKeys, which analyses global aviation capacity, flight searches and over 17 million flight booking transactions a day, reveals that in 2019 growth in international air travel, as measured by passenger journeys, grew by 4.5%. That is healthily ahead of global economic growth, but it is significantly slower growth than last year, 6.0%; and it is slower than the trend over the last decade, which averages 6.8% per annum. However, the outlook for the coming three months is considerably more optimistic, with international flight bookings as at 1st January 2020 standing 8.3% ahead of where they were at the start of 2019.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, commented: “Usually, aviation grows around three percentage points ahead of global GDP. However, in the past year, we have seen several events which have held back growth; these include US trade disputes with Canada, China, Mexico and the EU, riots in Chile, France, Hong Kong and India, the grounding of the relatively new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, terrorism in Sri Lanka, the emergence of ‘flight shaming’ and the bankruptcy of Jet Airways.”
Whilst air travel grew in most parts of the world in 2019, there was a notable exception; international departures from the Middle East were down by 2.4%. The main cause of this was the bankruptcy of Jet Airways, which had the effect of cutting flight capacity between the Middle East and India. Travel between Middle Eastern countries grew by 0.7% while travel to other parts of the world fell by 3.9%.
The stand-out region in terms of international aviation growth in 2019 was Asia Pacific, where international outbound travel grew by 7.7%, reflecting the strong economic growth of the region. Travel between countries in the Asia Pacific region grew even more strongly, by 8.7%. Europe did particularly well as a destination, registering 11.7% growth from the Asia Pacific market, boosted by new routes, following the successful EU-China tourism year.
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