Emirates among top five airlines for passenger and cargo operations

Low-cost carriers are a growing segment of the airline industry and doubled seat capacity in 2018

The Middle East was among the top five regions carrying the largest number of passengers worldwide, Iata said. Reuters
The Middle East was among the top five regions carrying the largest number of passengers worldwide, Iata said. Reuters

Dubai flag carrier Emirates airlines ranked among the top five globally by number of passengers and volume of air cargo flown in 2018, according to the International Air Transport Association's (Iata) latest report.

Emirates ranked fourth by total scheduled passenger kilometres flown after American Air Lines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, Iata said on Wednesday in its 2019 World Air Transport Statistics report. Emirates landed second biggest carrier by freight tonne kilometers flown after Federal Express.

The Middle East was among the top five regions carrying the largest number of passengers worldwide, Iata said. Regional airlines carried 224 million passengers in 2018, up 4 per cent on the previous year. With a 5.1 per cent share of the travel market, the Middle East ranked fourth after Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America.

"Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before," Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general said. "As with any human activity this comes with an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing ... From 2020 we will cap net carbon emissions growth and by 2050, we will cut our net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels."

The figures come amid increasing worries about rising geopolitical tensions and oil price volatility clipping global airlines' profitability. Iata has voiced its concern about the impact on aviation from the US-China trade war, uncertainty around Britain's exit from the European Union and higher costs on the back of rising oil prices.

Iata said that 4.4 billion passengers flew last year, an increase of 6.9 per cent over 2017, representing an additional 284 million trips. The rise in passenger numbers contributed to a record 81.9 per cent of available seats being filled.

The most frequent travelers were Britons (8.6 per cent of all passengers), Americans (7.6 per cent), Chinese (6.6 per cent), Germans (6.4 per cent) and French (4.1 per cent), the report showed.

The top five most popular flights between international airports were all within Asia-Pacific and included Hong Kong - Taipei Taoyuan, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur International – Singapore Changi, the report said.

The growth of low-cost carriers outpaced their that of network carriers, Iata said.

Budget airline capacity grew by 13.4 per cent, almost double the overall industry growth rate of 6.9 per cent, and accounted for 21 per cent of global capacity in 2018, up from 11 per cent in 2004.

In terms of available seats, the global share of low-cost carriers in 2018 was 29 per cent, reflecting the short-haul nature of their business model, and is an increase from 16 per cent in 2004.

Fuel efficiency improved in 2018 by more than 12 per cent compared to 2010, owing to technology advances creating more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The aviation industry's "ambitious climate action goal needs government support. It is critical for sustainable aviation fuels, new technology and more efficient routes to deliver the greener future we are aiming for", Mr de Juniac said.

Published: August 1, 2019 07:30 AM

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