Airports Council International (ACI) World has announced that, in December, worldwide passenger traffic increased by 4.9% compared to the same month the year before.

According to a preliminary data sample from major airports around the world, airports saw a 3.4% passenger growth compared to the previous year’s 6.4%.

For the freight industry, the initial end-of-year results saw a decrease of 2.5%, while 2018 saw an increase of 3.4%.

ACI added that freight volumes started to recover towards the last three months of the year, however, this is expected to be disrupted due to the Covid-19 global public health emergency.

Meanwhile, in December, both international and domestic passenger segments saw an equal increase of 4.9%.

For the full year, the international market saw a preliminary growth of 4.1% while the domestic market recorded an increase of 2.8%.

The North American and Asia-Pacific markets registered a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 6.4% and 6% respectively, with both international and domestic segments seeing good growth.

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The European market recorded a YoY passenger traffic increase of 2.8% while the year ended on an increase of 3.2%.

In addition, Africa’s preliminary year-end growth was at 6.7%, the Middle East posted an increase of 3.3% and Latin America-Caribbean saw a growth of 3.7%.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “With ongoing trade wars and rising geopolitical tension in the Middle East, the global environment in 2019 was certainly challenging for air transport.

“Though a recovery for the freight industry was starting to emerge in the later part of the year, we now face a health crisis that could stifle the uptrend and lead us into another volatile year in 2020.

“The developing situation may not be a momentary shock to the air transport industry; rather it has the potential to produce a significant shift in this year’s global economic growth trend.”

Last month, ACI Asia-Pacific stated that the Asia-Pacific and Middle East airport revenues are under high pressure in January and February, even with moderate growth last year, due to the recent Covid-19 epidemic.