Record 4.4 billion passengers flew in 2018

Travel news

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July 31, 2019

By | July 31, 2019

In its annual report, IATA also calls for more environment-friendly operations and government support

Air travel has never been as accessible as these days and more and more people have taken part in the segment. 

According to the new report by IATA — a major trade association of the world’s airlines — a record 4.4 billion passengers traveled by plane in 2018 alone. The figure represents an increase of 6.9 percent over 2017.

Air travel has never been as accessible and popular — Shutterstock Record 4.4 billion passengers flew in 2018Air travel has never been so accessible and popular — Shutterstock

The new data also underline an increase in efficiency with 81.9 percent of available seats being filled over the year. Similarly, fuel efficiency reportedly improved by more than 12 percent compared to 2010. 

In addition, the annual report also confirms the trend of low-cost carriers (LCCs) strengthening their positions in the segment. In 2018, the LCC capacity grew by 13.4 percent, almost doubling the overall industry growth rate. 

When looking at available seats, the global share of LCCs in 2018 was 29 percent. This represents an increase of 16 percent compared to 2004.

By 2050, airlines will cut net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels

While the air travel segment continues to grow in large scale, the major players also acknowledge its impact on the environment. 

“Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA has urged to significantly reduce net carbon footprint — Shutterstock Record 4.4 billion passengers flew in 2018IATA has urged to significantly reduce net carbon footprint — Shutterstock

“As with any human activity, this comes with an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing.”

To tackle the environmental issues, the association has set target goals for upcoming decades. 

“We understand that sustainability is essential to our license to spread aviation’s benefits. From 2020 we will cap net carbon emissions growth. And, by 2050, we will cut our net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels,” Juniac added.

“This ambitious climate action goal needs government support. It is critical for sustainable aviation fuels, new technology and more efficient routes to deliver the greener future we are aiming for.” 

Asia Pacific still dominates the skies

The IATA’s annual report also suggests other interesting trends. For instance, airlines in the Asia-Pacific remain the busiest on a global scale.

Carrying over 1.6 billion passengers in 2018 alone, the airlines of Asia Pacific region take 31.7 percent of the global market share.

With 26.2 percent of the market share and 1.1 billion passengers, second place belongs to Europe, while North America took the third rank with 989.4 million passengers and 22.6 percent of the market share.

The top five nationalities traveling on international routes:

  1. United Kingdom (126.2 million, or 8.6 percent of all passengers)
  2. United States (111.5 million, or 7.6 percent of all passengers)
  3. The People’s Republic of China (97 million, or 6.6 percent of all passengers)
  4. Germany (94.3 million, or 6.4 percent of all passengers)
  5. France (59.8 million, or 4.1 percent of all passengers)

The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown:

  1. American Airlines (330.6 billion)
  2. Delta Air Lines (330 billion)
  3. United Airlines (329.6 billion)
  4. Emirates (302.3 billion)
  5. Southwest Airlines (214.6 billion)