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China and Asia-Pacific

Special Report - History LessonsLast year Asia-Pacific became the world’s largest aviation market. Its travelers numbered 647 million compared with the 638 million who traveled within North America

The region’s prospects suggest it will dominate global aviation for at least the next decade. It is already home to some of the world’s most profitable airlines and by 2013 an additional 217 million travelers are expected to take to the skies within Asia-Pacific.

The shift in global travel markets can also be seen in changes within Asia-Pacific itself. In the past decade China has replaced Japan as the dominant player. Today, 38% of passengers in the region either start or end their journey in China. Its fleet has tripled in the past 10 years and now numbers 1,400 aircraft. The 5.7 million weekly seats on offer are more than double Japan’s 2.6 million. It has even surpassed Japan in terms of international seats.

“Asia-Pacific is leading the industry recovery and we expect it to be the most profitable region this year,” says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO. “The dynamism of the China market, with growth rates near 20%, is helping to drive profits in the region.” 

China’s importance will only increase, according to the latest projections. While US carriers offer three seats per year for each of its 300 million citizens, the Chinese population of 1.3 billion is served by only 0.3 seats.

However, liberalization will be vital to future success. Chinese carriers have consolidated but more must be achieved on a regional and global basis. “Asian aviation will not reach its potential if the airlines are constrained to old ways of doing business,” notes Bisignani.

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