By Adekunle Williams
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday said that 4.1 billion passengers were transported in 2017 compared to the 3.8 billion passengers recorded in 2016.
The figure is more than half of the World’s population currently put at 7.2 billion.
The information is contained in the 62nd Edition of the World Air Transport Statistics (WATS), the yearbook of the airline industry’s performance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos obtained a copy of the document after it was released by IATA from Montreal, Canada.
NAN observed that the document showed that the 2017 performance represented an additional 280 million trips (7.8 per cent increase) by air compared to 2016.
It said: “Worldwide annual air passenger numbers exceeded four billion for the first time.
“It is supported by a broad-based improvement in global economic conditions and lower average airfares.
“At the same time, airlines connected a record number of cities worldwide, providing regular services to over 20,000 city pairs in 2017, more than double the level of 1995.
“Such increases in direct services improve the industry’s efficiency by cutting costs and saving time for both travellers and shippers alike.”
According to the document, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers with 36.3 per cent market share (1.5 billion passengers).
The documented also showed that Europe recorded 26.3 per cent market share (1.1 billion passengers} while North America recorded 23 per cent market share (941.8 million passengers).
It also indicated that Latin America recorded 7 per cent market share (286.1 million passengers).
Also, Middle East recorded 5.3 market share (216.1 million passengers) while Africa recorded 2.2 per cent market share (88.5 million passengers).
The document also showed that the top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown were: American Airlines (324 million) and Delta Airlines (316.3 million).
Others are the United Airlines (311 million), Emirates Airlines (289 million) and Southwest Airlines (207.7 million).
It also stated that citizens of United States of America topped the travellers’ chart with 632 million passengers followed by the People’s Republic of China with 555 million passengers.
Also India had 161.5 million passengers, the United Kingdom recorded 147 million passengers and Germany had 114.4 million passengers.
The Director-General of IATA, Mr Alexandre de Juniac, commenting on the development said, “In 2,000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months.
“Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure and education. Aviation is the business of freedom.”