Air transportation around the globe continued to recover in fiscal year 2012, which resulted in the airline sector expecting a collective profit for 2012. However, profits for 2012 are expected to be less than half the US$8.4 billion that the industry earned in 2011. Growth, nevertheless, varies greatly between regions. Negative or flat growth, resulting in losses for airlines, has been experienced in Europe, while North American shows signs of recovery. In emerging markets, the Middle East and Latin America continue their solid expansion, followed by a good development in China, and overall Asia Pacific. Africa recovered from its decline in 2009, and shows modest but sustained growth. The main challenges of the industry continue to be the high oil price and a slow global recovery. Airlines are focusing on reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Air cargo experienced continued declining freight volumes, suggesting a slowdown in global trade paired with some possible modal shift in transportation services.
The outlook for the industry, on the other hand, continues to remain positive for the medium and long-term. The air transport industry collectively sees strong continued growth over the next two decades resulting in a doubling of passenger traffic by 2030. World passenger traffic is forecast to grow by about 4.5 percent in that period, which is well over the expected growth in world GDP of an average 3 percent. The strongest development is forecast to occur in the emerging markets of China and India, where passenger traffic is expected to grow by 7 - 8 percent per year.
Despite the positive outlook, growing concern about the sustainable development of the industry is being voiced due to its dependence on affordable fuel costs, its challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and its vulnerability to recessions that hamper global trade. Behind this uncertainty, many large infrastructure investments in airports or air traffic control systems must be launched early to meet an uncertain future demand. If necessary investments are not made, future economic development may be impacted.
The World Bank Group (WBG) will continue to support its client countries in developing a sustainable air transport sector. The development focus will remain on the provision of safe, secure, and affordable air transport services, which secure global sustainability of the industry through green growth of aviation. The instruments of the WBG to support this growth are investment projects in public or private air transport projects, investments guarantees, policy advice to governments, advisory services and technical assistance, and research projects.
For the full story of the World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report as well as previous issues of annual reports, please see the links below:
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report (PDF file, 3,760kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report (PDF file, 2,070kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report (PDF file, 1,743kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report (PDF file, 1,687kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Report (PDF file, 924kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2007 Annual Report (PDF file, 917kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2006 Annual Report (PDF file, 509kb in size)
World Bank Group Air Transport Fiscal Year 2005 Annual Report (PDF file, 872kb in size)
To contact the air transport office at the World Bank, please click below to send an email to
Charles E. Schlumberger
Lead Air Transport Specialist
Air Transport Specialist