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Asia eclipses North America as world’s largest aviation market

Asia Pacific has overtaken North America as the world’s largest passenger market in aviation, according to new figures from the International Air Transport Association.

The region flew 647 million passengers on commercial flights in 2009, in contrast to 638 million in North America.

Within Asia, China has eclipsed Japan over the past decade as the region’s largest domestic market, with 1,400 aircraft compared with Japan’s 540 and 5.7 million weekly seats against 2.6 million in Japan.

“In 2009, intra-Asia Pacific travel had eclipsed the number of travellers in North America as the world’s largest aviation market,” IATA said at an aviation business conference on the eve of the Singapore Airshow.

“The global aviation industry is expected to reduce losses from $US11.0 billion ($A12.51 billion) in 2009 to $US5.6 billion ($A6.37 billion) in 2010,” said IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani.


He also pointed to the explosion in Chinese aviation that propelled growth in the Asia-Pacific.

“The region’s two biggest growth markets, India and China, face completely different circumstances. India’s challenge is to reduce costs and improve infrastructure, while China is adjusting to new global trade patterns.”

“While we see dynamism and diversity within the region, the aspect of Asia-Pacific that excites me most is its potential,” he added.

“More than a quarter of the 2.2 billion people who flew last year, or 647 million people, flew within Asia-Pacific markets.  It has eclipsed travel within North America as the traditional leader in traffic numbers.”

IATA represents some 230 carriers that account for more than 90 percent of scheduled air traffic, but does not include many of the budget airlines credited with a boom in short and medium-haul travel.