ICAO expects Asia-Pacific air travel to grow by 8% this year in terms of passenger-kilometres performed, well above the global average of 5.4%.
The UN aviation body expects Asia-Pacific GDP at purchasing power parity to grow by 5.8%, again well above a global average of just 3.4% - down from 3.7% last year.
"The lower-than-projected air transport numbers are due primarily to continuing high oil prices and reflect a similar impact on global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the same period," says ICAO. The European Union (EU) is expected to be hardest hit during 2012 as it continues to deal with sovereign debt and austerity burdens.
Looking further forward, current expectations see a 4.3 per cent annual GDP at PPP growth rate for the world economy over 2013-2014, with world air traffic growth projected to expand by 6.0 and 6.4 per cent, respectively.
World total scheduled passenger traffic expressed in terms of passenger-kilometres performed (PKPs) on total scheduled services (i.e. international and domestic services combined) increased by 6.5 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010. These figures are based on annual reporting data from its 191 Member States, supported by ICAO estimates.
The 6.5 per cent achievement represents the second consecutive period of growth for the air transport industry since 2009, corresponding to an increase of 5.6 per cent over 2010 in the number of passengers carried.
World international and domestic commercial operators carried 2.7 billion passengers in 2011, while the number of aircraft departures reached the never-before-seen 30 million mark-representing a 3.6 per cent increase year-on-year.
World airlines generated an estimated combined operating profit of US$14.1 billion in 2011, representing only 2.2 per cent of operating revenues. This performance, however, marked a significant decrease from the record US$28.9 billion operating profit generated by the airline industry the previous year, which corresponded to 5.0 per cent of its 2010 operating revenues.
Asia-Pacific airlines posted the strongest financial performance during 2011, with net profits of $10.8 billion.
" Based on continuing lower traffic growth forecasts and reduced economic growth, especially linked to the risk of a deepening European recession, the airline industry globally is expected to face a challenging profitability environment in the near-term," warns ICAO.