The Airports Council International today announced that Beijing airport has officially overtaken London Heathrow as the world’s second busiest, behind Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the US.
The ACI report, which is based on figures from more than 900 airports across the world, also showed a better than expected growth in the numbers of air passengers over the last year (2010), with a 6.3% increase. Air freight also rose strongly, increasing by 15.2% on 2009’s figures.
Angela Gittens, the Director General of ACI, claimed that figures of more than 5 billion passengers in 2010 underlined the air transport industry’s resilience even in harsh economic times.
As well as that, the figures show the divergence of regional growth. The Asia-Pacific, Middle Eastern and Latin American regions have all seen sustained growth, while Europe and North America struggle to reach the passenger volumes of before the economic crisis.
With the exception of last April’s volcanic ash disruptions, 2010 saw consistent growth in passenger levels worldwide, between 5% and 10% throughout the year. Europe also suffered from the unusually harsh weather in December, yet it still managed to register growth rates of over 4%, in spite of these setbacks.
Meanwhile, North America’s growth rate was the slowest, at just 2.4%, due in part to a slower rate of economic recovery.
The biggest winner was Asia, which saw a huge 14.2% increase in the number of air travelers visiting the region, leading to growth rates of 11.5%.