ICAO: Airline Passenger Traffic Sees Record Drop

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The International Civil Aviation Organization has announced that preliminary figures for air travel during 2009 show that one localized spike was no match for a worldwide decline in airline passenger traffic that could represent the largest drop-off in aviation history. International traffic declined by nearly 4 percent worldwide, while domestic traffic fell about 1.8 percent on average, according to ICAO. Asia and Latin America managed strong domestic passenger traffic growth and North America's budget carriers helped hold traffic declines to a minimum. But all major geographic areas, except one, showed a decline in total (domestic and international, combined) number. The one area that showed an increase in total passenger traffic was the Middle East, which chimed in with a 10 percent overall increase. ICAO's forecast for future trends doesn't shine quite that bright, but it is positive.

For 2011, ICAO predicts that airline passenger traffic should return to a more traditional 5.5 percent annual growth rate, following a 3.3 percent improvement in 2010. The current year-over-year decline is the industry's representation of a 1-percent drop in the world's 2009 gross domestic product, according to ICAO.