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Traveller Numbers Reach New Heights

Air Passengers Top Four Billion For The First Time: IATA

On the move… the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced industry performance statistics for 2017, revealing that worldwide annual air passenger numbers exceeded four billion for the first time, supported by a broad-based improvement in global economic conditions and lower average airfares.

At the same time, airlines connected a record number of cities worldwide, providing regular services to more than 20,000 city pairs in 2017, more than double the level of 1995. Such increases in direct services improve the industry’s efficiency by cutting costs and saving time for both travellers and shippers alike.

This information is included in the recently released 62nd Edition of the World Air Transport Statistics (WATS), the yearbook of the airline industry’s performance.

“In 2000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months. Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure and education. Aviation is the business of freedom,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Highlights of the 2017 airline industry performance:

  • System-wide, airlines carried 4.1 billion passengers on scheduled services, an increase of 7.3% over 2016, representing an additional 280 million trips by air.
  • Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers. Second was Europe, followed by North America.
  • The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometres flown, were: American Airlines (324 million), Delta Air Lines, United Airlines (311 million), Emirates Airline (289 million), Southwest Airlines (207.7 million).
  • One of the interesting recent additions to the WATS report is the ranking of passenger traffic by nationality, for international and domestic travel. (Nationality refers to the passenger’s citizenship as opposed to the country of residence.) United States (632 million, representing 18.6% of all passengers); China (555 million or 16.3% of all passengers); India (161.5 million or 4.7% of all passengers); United Kingdom (147 million or 4.3% of all passengers); Germany (114.4 million or 3.4% of all passengers).
  • Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2016 with 39% of total scheduled traffic (in RPKs), followed by SkyTeam (33%) and oneworld (28%).

The complete 62nd WATS is available for purchase on IATA’s web site at

Posted in Airlines, News