World airline passenger traffic fell 3.
1 percent in 2009, the biggest drop in aviation industry history, fueled by the global financial downturn, the International Civil Aviation Organization said Friday.
Preliminary figures for airline travel this year showed that international traffic declined by about 3.9 percent and domestic traffic by 1.8 percent, despite sharp growth in some regions.
Total passenger traffic - both domestic and international - fell in all regions except the Middle East, which posted 10 percent growth. All other regions recorded negative growth, with Africa hardest hit at minus 9.6 percent overall, the ICAO said.
The 3.1 percent drop in passenger traffic this year compared to 2008 was the largest on record for the industry and "reflects the one percent drop in the world gross domestic product for the year," the organization said in a statement.
"The double-digit domestic passenger traffic growth in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, and the relative strong performance of low cost carriers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific helped curtail the decline in total traffic."
The ICAO predicted a moderate recovery of 3.3 percent growth for the airline industry next year, in line with improving economic conditions around the world.
For 2011, it forecast momentum to build to return to the traditional 5.5 percent yearly growth rate in airline passenger traffic.