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Published:July 3rd, 2006 15:47 EST
World Airline Traffic, Set for Robust Growth Through 2008

World Airline Traffic, Set for Robust Growth Through 2008

By SOP newswire

World airline scheduled passenger traffic is expected to show robust growth over the next three years following a strong rebound in 2004 and continued resilience in 2005, according to the latest medium-term forecasts from the United Nations aviation agency.

At the same time the UN tourism agency reported preliminary results for the first four months of 2006 showing 10 million more international tourist arrivals worldwide than in than in the same period last year, for a total 236 million, or a 4.5 per cent growth rate.

With the anticipated good performance of the world economy, airline traffic is expected to rise by 6.1 per cent in 2006, 5.8 per cent in 2007, and 5.6 per cent in 2008, the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (<"">ICAO) said.

Traffic development during the period will vary by region due to specific local, intra- and inter-regional factors. For the period 2006-2008, it is anticipated that the Middle East will show the highest average annual growth rate of about 10.7 per cent (12 per cent for 2006, 10.5 per cent for 2007 and 9.5 per cent for 2008). The Asia/Pacific region is forecast to experience fairly strong traffic growth rates, well above the world average.

The markets for European as well as African airlines are also expected to grow at rates higher than the world average. North America as well as Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to grow somewhat below the world averages.

After three years of poor performance, airline traffic showed a strong recovery in 2004 and total (international and domestic) scheduled passenger traffic by airlines based in ICAO’s 189 Contracting States surpassed the 2000 volume by about 13 per cent. Due to the continued expansion of the global economy in 2005, traffic is estimated to have grown by 8 per cent.

As for tourism, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) noted that although the rate of growth has slowed slightly, in line with forecasts, 2006 has got off to a good start, with the first four months recording a 4.5 per cent growth in international arrivals worldwide.

“International tourism has now entered a more stable phase of sustained demand without big peaks and troughs,” UNWTO Secretary General Francesco Frangialli said. “Although the rate of growth is slowing gradually, international tourism is firmly on track to grow at a rate above the long-term average of 4 per cent for the third year in a row now – barring unexpected events, of course.”

Africa and the Middle East (both at 11 per cent), and Asia and the Pacific (at 8 per cent), showed faster than average growth, while Europe and the Americas grew at a more moderate pace – at just under 3 per cent. The first months of 2006 were also marked by the much expected recovery of the destinations tragically hit by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Arrivals in the Maldives were as much as 97 per cent above the same period last year. Sri Lanka, at a 25 per cent increase, also did well, while foreign arrivals in Thailand through Bangkok airport rose by 29 per cent in the first three months of 2006. But Indonesia’s recovery has been unfortunately compromised by the 27 May earthquake that occurred in the vicinity of its second favourite tourism destination, Yogyakarta.