African airlines recorded a 6.5 per cent increase in passengers’ traffic in 2018 compared to the six per cent annual growth recorded in 2017.
Mr Alexandre de Juniac, the Director-General, International Air Transport Association (IATA), said on Thursday in a statement in Lagos.
de Juniac said the strong performance took place in spite of the mixed economic backdrop of the continent’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa.
According to him, capacity rose by 4.4 per cent, and load factor jumped by 1.4 percentage points to 71.0 per cent.
He said Asia-Pacific Airlines’ 2018 traffic rose to 7.3 per cent compared to 2017 driven by robust regional economic expansion and an increase in route options for travellers.
The IATA chief said European carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.6 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year, while Middle East carriers’ traffic increased 4.2 per cent compared to 2017.
He said North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full-year traffic rising by 5.0 per cent compared to 2017 and Latin American airlines’ traffic also climbed 6.9 per cent in 2017.
According to him, global passengers’ traffic rose by a healthy 6.5 per cent compared to full year 2017.
He said: “2018 was another year of strong passengers’ demand, as aviation continued to support the global economy.
“We expect similar, if somewhat moderating performance in 2019, nevertheless, slowing growth in the second half of 2018.
“This is coupled with concerns over issues including Brexit and United States- China trade tensions, are creating some uncertainty to this positive outlook,” de Juniac added.
He said that aviation had continued to demonstrate why it was the “Business of Freedom” in 2018.
“We safely transported more than 4.3 billion passengers. These people used air connectivity to conduct trade and business, reunite with friends and loved ones, explore the world, and in some cases, even to begin new lives.
“Aviation makes the modern world possible, but we depend on borders that are open to people and trade to be effective.
“In 2019, we will be strong advocates against a rising tide of protectionism and trade conflict.
So, the Business of Freedom can continue to do its part to make the world a more prosperous and happier place,” the IATA chief said.