New Delhi–India’s domestic passenger traffic grew by 23.3 per cent last year, a global airlines’ association said on Thursday.

“The domestic India market topped the growth chart for the second year in a row; passenger volumes surged by 23.3 per cent in 2016 – twice as fast as the next fastest growing market, China,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its air passenger market analysis.

According to the data, India’s domestic RPK (revenue passenger kilometres) and available seat kilometres (ASK) were the highest amongst the major aviation markets such as Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, the Russian Federation and the US.

The global airlines association’s data showed that India’s domestic RPK — a gauge that measures actual passenger traffic — rose by 23.3 per cent in 2016 compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

The 2016 data disclosed that India’s domestic passenger traffic growth was followed by that of China at 11.7 per cent and the US at 3.4 per cent.

Last month, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data had shown that India’s domestic air passenger traffic zoomed by 23.18 per cent in 2016 to 998.88 lakh.

Besides, IATA’s yearly data revealed that global passenger traffic for 2016 (RPKs) rose 6.3 per cent compared to 2015.

“Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a $44 fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible. As a result, a record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination,” Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and Chief Executive of IATA was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Demand for air travel is still expanding. The challenge for governments is to work with the industry to meet that demand with infrastructure that can accommodate the growth, regulation that facilitates growth and taxes that don’t choke growth.”

On a monthly basis, the country’s domestic passenger traffic grew by 23.7 per cent in December.

The December 2016 data showed that India’s domestic passenger traffic growth was followed by that of China at 16.9 per cent, the Russian Federation at 13.4 per cent, Japan at 4.7 per cent, the US at 2.4 per cent and Australia at 0.9 per cent.

However, Brazil reported a decline of 1.9 per cent in its domestic passenger traffic.

Further, India’s domestic ASK — which measures available passenger capacity — surged by 21.4 per cent in the month under review, followed by that of China at 13.1 per cent and the Russian Federation at 11.2 per cent.

In addition, the global airlines association said the global RPK in December rose by 8.8 per cent. The global ASK climbed by 6.6 per cent. (IANS)