The latest data from ForwardKeys has revealed growth in international air travel, as measured by passenger journeys, grew by 4.5 per cent last year.
That is healthily ahead of global economic growth, but it is significantly slower growth than in 2018, when growth of six per cent was recorded.
It is also slower than the trend over the last decade, which averages 6.8 per cent per annum.
However, the outlook for the coming three months is considerably more optimistic, with international flight bookings as at January 1st standing 8.3 per cent ahead of where they were at the start of 2019.
Olivier Ponti, vice president, insights, ForwardKeys, commented: “Usually, aviation grows around three percentage points ahead of global GDP.
“However, in the past year, we have seen several events which have held back growth; these include US trade disputes with Canada, China, Mexico and the EU, riots in Chile, France, Hong Kong and India, the grounding of the relatively new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, terrorism in Sri Lanka, the emergence of ‘flight shaming’ and the bankruptcy of Jet Airways.”
While air travel grew in most parts of the world in 2019, there was a notable exception; international departures from the Middle East were down by 2.4 per cent.
The main cause of this was the bankruptcy of Jet Airways, which had the effect of cutting flight capacity between the Middle East and India.
Travel between Middle Eastern countries grew by 0.7 per cent, while travel to other parts of the world fell by 3.9 per cent.
The stand-out region in terms of international aviation growth in 2019 was Asia Pacific, where international outbound travel grew by 7.7 per cent, reflecting the strong economic growth of the region.
The second placed region was Africa.
There, international travel grew by 7.5 per cent.
The most significant drivers were increases in capacity and in routes by Ethiopian Airlines – capacity between Addis Ababa and Delhi, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Manila and Seoul, and new flights to Bangalore from Addis and New York from Abidjan.
Other airlines also added African routes, including Air China between Johannesburg and Shenzhen, China Southern between Nairobi and Shenzhen, Kenya Airways between Nairobi and New York, LATAM Airlines between Johannesburg and Sao Paulo and Royal Air Maroc between Casablanca and Boston and Miami.