in % of passenger-kilometers.
Source: IATA, World Air Transport Statistics.
In 2010, about 2.6 billion passengers traveled by air transport. A large share (39%) of air traffic flows in terms of passenger-km occurs within three regions, North America (19%), Europe (13%), and China (7%). Most international movements in Europe have a regional scale. For instance, although a flight between Paris and London is considered international, it is barely longer than a Boston-New York regional air shuttle service which is counted as a national flight. Air traffic dominantly takes place on the east-west axis over the Northern Hemisphere with other continents, such as South America, Africa, and Oceania, accounting for a function of feeders, but with significant growth of regional traffic. Important international routes link the most economically active regions of the world:
- North Atlantic route. Represents the most intensively used and competitive air route in the world with 8.7% of the passenger-km. If flows between Europe and Latin America are included this share climbs to 11.9%.
- Trans-Pacific route. Accounts for 5% of the global traffic. The strong growth rates of Pacific Asian economies have induced a strong growth in air traffic. The Pacific Asian market has grown in waves involving different markets at different points in time, starting with Japan, then followed by the “Tigers” (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), and then by China and emerging economies such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
- Europe – Far East route. Accounts for 5.4% of the global traffic.
- Middle East hub. In recent years, the Middle East has been playing a rising role as a hub (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha), particularly in linking Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Africa, and Europe.