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05 June 2018   March 2018: Passengers up 11% in Asia-Pacific and 4% in Middle East

[June 5, 2018 – Hong Kong] Passenger traffic across Asia-Pacific and Middle East continued recording growth in March at +10.7% and +4.0% year-on-year, respectively.


India led in the region, reporting growth at +23.1%, boosted by robust domestic demand. The domestic sector grew by +26% during the month, its highest since March 2016. Top volume drivers for the month were: Delhi (DEL) +16.6%, Bangalore (BLR) +47.9% and Mumbai (BOM) +16.1%.


Growth in China reached +11.2% in March supported by vigorous domestic and international demand. The international sector grew by +19.2% during the month, the fastest since January 2017. This was attributed to airports actively expanding international services. Top volume drivers for the month included: Shanghai Pudong (PVG) +9.6%, Guangzhou (CAN) +9.9% and Shenzhen (SZX) +13.7%.


Passenger traffic in the Middle East picked up some pace, benefited by an earlier start of the Easter peak season as compared to last year. Dubai (DXB), the largest airport in the region recorded an increase of +4.54%. Though the diplomatic crisis in Qatar continued to negatively impact Doha’s (DOH) traffic, the decline eased to -6.5%, an improvement from the double-digit decreases since June 2017. On the other hand, Kuwait (KWI) and Muscat (MCT) continued delivering strong growth at +20.1% and +8.3%, respectively.


Collectively, passenger traffic growth maintained momentum throughout the first quarter. India enjoyed vibrant growth in domestic demand, while airports in China actively pursued international and domestic opportunities. Growth in the Middle East was moderate as carriers adapted and adjusted strategies amid market challenges and regional tensions.


Air freight growth slowed in March, with Asia-Pacific recording +1.0% increase and Middle East recording a decline of -2.1%. The top freight hubs in both regions recorded declines from last year due to reduction in export orders: Hong Kong (HKG) -2.5%, Shanghai Pudong (PVG) -2.3% and Seoul Incheon (ICN) +0.3%.


Overall air freight growth was moderate but remained steady in the first quarter. Among the top 10 freight airports in Asia-Pacific and Middle East combined, 5 recorded year-to-date growth of +4% or above.


TABLE 1:  Preliminary year-on-year traffic growth rates for Airports reporting highest traffic volume in the respective size category in March 2018 1


Top 3 airports by size category2



> 40M

25M to 40M

15M to 25M

5M to 15M



Beijing (PEK) +5.7%

Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) +8.9%

Xiamen (XMN) +10.0%

Muscat (MCT) +8.3%

Hong Kong (HKG) 



Dubai (DXB) +4.5%


Hangzhou (HGH) +14.5%


Fukuoka (FUK) +3.7%

Kuwait (KWI)


Shanghai Pudong (PVG) -2.3%


Tokyo Haneda (HND) -3.0%


Melbourne (MEL) +7.2%

Tianjin (TSN) +22.5%

Nagoya (NGO) +4.0%

Seoul Incheon (ICN)         +0.3%




Note :


  1. ACI preliminary passenger and freight statistics are based on a significant sample of airports that provide regular monthly reports to ACI. They represent approximately 60% of total passenger traffic and 70% of total freight traffic worldwide. Commentary, tables and charts are based on preliminary data submitted by participating airports and are therefore subject to change.


  1. Size categories refer to the annual passenger traffic (in the last 12 months).


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