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Air Transport - By the Numbers



The facts below highlight air transport's impact worldwide:

  • The IATA has forecasted that in 2010, close to 2.3 billion passengers, approximately 30% of the world’s population, will be transported by the world’s airlines.
  • Air cargo has become the essential mode of transportation for high value and perishable goods. 40% of all goods by value worldwide are transported by air. Many developing countries depend heavily on air cargo for their exports as other modes are unreliable or non-existent.
  • Worldwide growth of air travel in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) traveled fell 3.8% in 2009, and it is expected to rebound 3.3% in 2010, followed by a 5.5% lift in 2011.
  • In South Asia alone, the number of passengers carried by air transport has grown 14% in 2007. East Asia and Pacific has seen a growth rate of 13%. These figures far exceed overall economic growth rates for these regions.
  • 43.3 million tons of freight will be transported by air in 2010, up from 30.4 million in 2000.
  • Air transport worldwide employs 5.5 million people.

Yet, by the same token, air transport now faces a fresh set of challenges, endangering the more optimistic growth forecasts. Fuel costs have risen substantially, from an annually $46 billion in 2000 to an astounding $136 billion in 2007, when crude oil prices were at $73 per barrel – still just above half of the $140 per barrel seen more recently in mid 2008.

In addition, the industry is becoming more and more of a target of environmental concerns particularly because of its consistent growth over time. Though it only contributes to a very small fraction of overall emissions today (estimates are in the 3 to 4% range), the rapid growth of air transport during the past few decades has caused such concerns that it is now becoming the target of new tradable carbon rights rules being applied in Europe, and similar legislation (Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008) occurring in the United States.

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