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Asia accounts for one-third of all air travel

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WASHINGTON – Air service within Asia continues to lead all regions of the world with nearly a third of all scheduled airline seats in January 2011, reports OAG, the global leader in aviation intellige

WASHINGTON – Air service within Asia continues to lead all regions of the world with nearly a third of all scheduled airline seats in January 2011, reports OAG, the global leader in aviation intelligence.

In its monthly Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics (FACTS) report, OAG reports scheduled seats within this region increased 9% in January, to a total of over 93 million. The number of flights also increased 9%. Seat capacity to and from Asia increased 11% to 15.2 million, and frequency increased 12%.

Worldwide, the total number of seats scheduled is 311.2 million, a 6% increase in capacity over the same month a year ago. Scheduled flights increased 5% to a total of 2.5 million operating in January 2011, over last year.

“Emergent markets are rapidly catching up with established regions in terms of size. One significant example is the strong and continued growth within the Chinese market; with future expectations of growth in demand, it is likely that this market will be larger than the total North American market within the decade,” said Peter von Moltke, CEO, UBM Aviation, parent company of OAG.

Growing at a much slower pace, seat capacity within North America grew 2% in January, to a total of 74.5 million, and flights increased just 1%. Travel to and from North America increased 3% to a total of 17.4 million seats; the change in flights, however, was negligible.

One of the fastest growing emerging markets, the Middle East, shows strong growth to and from the region with the number of seats and flights increasing 12% to a total of 11.7 million seats and 53,771 flights. Growth within the region grew again in January, increasing 4% to 7 million seats.

“Growth in this region is largely due to the development of three major hub airports in the Middle East, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. Year-over-year capacity to and from the region increased 12% through a combination of increasing hub capacity, and more importantly, the emergence of new low cost airlines in the region,” said John Grant, Senior Vice President, Airport Strategy & Marketing (ASM, Ltd), a UBM Aviation company.

A ten-year review of global capacity reflects an increase in seat capacity of 36%. Travel to and from the Middle East increased 182% since January 2002, while capacity within North American declined 7%.