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Press Release No.:  

Date: 16 July 2013

Products and Services Release: The Airline Industry Story for 2012

Complete Statistical Compilation Released

Montreal – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the 57th Edition of the World Air Transport Statistics (WATS), a yearbook of the global airline industry and IATA members’ performance.

Snapshot of 2012 performance:

Passenger

  • Systemwide, airlines carried 2.977 billion passengers on scheduled services. 
  • Airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region carried the most passengers last year (947.9 million), followed by carriers in North America (808.1 million), Europe (780.6 million), Latin America (226.5 million), Middle East (144.1 million) and Africa (69.8 million).
  • Developing economies continued to drive global demand growth: 65% of the growth in passenger numbers on international services in 2012 occurred on markets linked to emerging markets.
  • The premium travel segment slipped to 7% of total international travel in 2012, but yields for the segment were more robust than for the economy segment, and premium travel accounted for 27% of international passenger revenues. 
  • The top countries by region based on passengers carried were for Africa: South Africa (20.4 million), Asia-Pacific: People’s Republic of China (361.4 million), Europe: United Kingdom (171.5 million), Latin America and Caribbean: Brazil (88.9 million), Middle East: United Arab Emirates (40.6 million), North America: United States (598.2 million). The United States continues to be the largest single market for air travel.
  • Countries with high year-over-year increase in passenger growth included Indonesia (18.2%), Thailand (17.7%) and Turkey (16.7%).
  • The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passengers carried were Delta Air Lines (116.7 million), Southwest Airlines (112.2 million), United Airlines (92.6 million), American Airlines (86.3 million) and China Southern Airlines (86.3 million). 
  • The top three city-pairs based on passengers carried on international routes were all within the Far East: Hong Kong-Taipei (5.5 million), Seoul-Tokyo (3.6 million) and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore (3.4 million).
  • The top three city-pairs based on passengers carried on domestic routes were Jeju-Seoul (9.5 million), Sapporo-Tokyo (8.8 million) and Fukuoka-Tokyo (7.6 million). 

Cargo

  • Air freight markets suffered another difficult year punctuated by shrinking demand, falling utilization and lower yields.
  • Global freight tonne kilometers decreased by 1.1% compared to 2011 but still represented an estimated $6.4 trillion of goods by value. 
  • The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled freight tonnes carried were Federal Express (6.9 million), UPS Airlines (4.6 million), Emirates (2.0 million), Korean Air (1.5 million) and Cathay Pacific Airways (1.4 million).

Fuel

  • In 2012, global commercial air transport consumed 73 billion US gallons of fuel at an estimated cost of $209 billion or 33% of airline operating costs.
  • The rise in the price of jet fuel since 2010, to an average of $130 per barrel in 2012, has added over $60 billion to the industry`s fuel bill.
  • IATA member airlines fuel efficiency improved by 18% during the 2001-2012 period from 45.0 to 36.8 liters per 100 revenue tonne kilometers. Fuel efficiency improved by 1.7% in 2012 compared to 2011.

Fleet and assets utilization

  • In 2012 the delivery of 1,374 jets and turboprop aircraft added 7-8% to industry capacity. However, less fuel-efficient aircraft were retired or put in storage resulting in a net fleet expansion of 500 aircraft. 
  • At year-end some 24,911 aircraft were in commercial airline service.

Airline Alliances

  • Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2012 with 25.2% of the total IATA scheduled traffic (revenue passenger kilometers), followed by SkyTeam (19.8%) and oneworld (14.1%).

Air transport is a critical component of global economy supporting 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity.


For more information, please contact:
Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967
Email: corpcomms@iata.org

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 240 airlines comprising 84% of global air traffic.
  • You can follow us at http://twitter.com/iata2press for news specially catered for the media.
  • More information on the WATS or to order a copy please visit: www.iata.org/wats
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