A preliminary report from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has revealed that the global air transport carried a total of 4.3 billion passengers on scheduled services last year.

The figure shows a 6.1% increase when compared to 2017.

According to the report, the number of departures increased to 38 million worldwide.

With 8.2 trillion revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs), the number of global passenger traffic in terms of total scheduled RPKs also increased at 6.7% last year.

However, this figure is a decrease from 7.9% reported in 2017.

“Air travel growth has eased in comparison to the strong upward trend seen in 2017.”

The report also showed that air transport was used by more than half of the world’s 1.4 billion people who travelled across international borders last year.

The use of air transport also resulted in around 90% of cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce.

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ICAO said in a statement: “Air travel growth has eased in comparison to the strong upward trend seen in 2017.

“The stimulus of lower airfares to travel demand has reduced due to the higher fuel prices from the last two years, reflecting the moderation in growth momentum.

“However, air traffic growth remained solid in 2018, underpinned by the global economic conditions throughout the year.”

ICAO also noted that the number of RPKs of global scheduled passenger traffic increased by 6.4% last year, down from the 8.4% achieved in 2017.

The low-cost carriers (LCCs) continued to grow at a faster rate than the world average growth, representing an increased market share in both advanced and emerging economies.

Among other data, the preliminary report revealed that the total capacity of the global airlines last year grew by nearly 6%, in terms of available seat-kilometres (ASKs).