The number of air passengers worldwide climbed over 4 billion for the first time last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on Thursday.
The historical high stemmed from the broad-based improvement in global economic conditions and lower average airfares, the IATA said in a statement.
'Airlines connected a record number of cities worldwide, providing regular services to over 20,000 city pairs in 2017, more than double the level of 1995,' the association said.
Air passengers carried by airlines in 2017 rose by 7.3 percent to reach 4.1 billion, compared with 2016, the IATA added.
In this period, Asia-Pacific took 36.3 percent share from the market with 1.5 billion passengers, Europe 26.3 percent with 1.1 billion passengers and the North America 23 percent with 941.8 million passengers.
The top five airlines with their number of passengers were American Airlines (324 million), Delta Air Lines (316.3 million), United Airlines (311 million), Emirates Airlines (289 million) and Southwest Airlines (207.7 million).
While Hong Kong-Taipei Taoyuan Airport ranked first with 5.4 million passengers in 2017, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta-Singapore (3.3 million) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi-Hong Kong (3.1 million) followed it.
During the period, 18.6 percent of the passengers were the U.S. citizens (632 million), 16.3 percent were Chinese citizens (555 million) and 4.7 percent were Indian citizens (161.5 million).
During 2017, the air cargo traffic also increased by 9.9 percent.
Alexandre de Juniac, the IATA's CEO, said: “In 2000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months.'
'Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure, and education. Aviation is the business of freedom,' the statement quoted Juniac as saying.
By Gokhan Ergocun