Oct. 26 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed on Monday that the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken North America as the world’s largest air travel market.
The Asia-Pacific region saw 647 million passengers travel by air in 2009 while 638 million people flew on commercial flights in North America, the IATA said at an aviation business conference on Monday to launch the Singapore Airshow.
“More than a quarter of the 2.2 billion people who flew last year, or 647 million people, flew within Asia-Pacific markets,” IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said at the conference. “It has eclipsed travel within North America as the traditional leader in traffic numbers.”
The region’s rise can largely be attributed to China’s booming domestic air travel market, which now boasts 1,400 aircraft and sells 5.7 million seats weekly. The next largest domestic air travel market in Asia belongs to Japan with 540 aircraft and 2.6 million seats sold weekly.
Bisignani told the conference that the Asia-Pacific market will continue to grow rapidly with an estimated 217 million additional air passengers a year in the region by 2013.
“While we see dynamism and diversity within the region, the aspect of Asia-Pacific that excites me most is its potential,” Bisignani said.