Ryanair 4th in world as airlines fly 3.8 billion
Global airlines carried 3.8 billion passengers last year, according to new statistics published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The figure was up 7pc over 2015, and Ryanair was also confirmed as the world's fourth-biggest airline, having carried 117 million passengers in 2016.
The biggest was US-based Southwest Airlines, with 151.8 million.
IATA said US citizens remain the world's most prevalent travellers. Some 810 million passengers travelled on US passports in 2016, accounting for 21pc of all global air passengers that year.
The report shows that airlines in the Asia-Pacific region carried the greatest number of passengers, last year. The 1.3 billion carried in the region accounted for 35pc of the total global figure. The figure was also 11.3pc higher than in 2015, underscoring the pace of air travel growth there.
That growth is being eagerly eyed by aircraft lessors, manufacturers and start-up airlines across the region.
Europe accounted for 26pc, or 992.4 million of all passenger trips last year. That was 6.1pc higher than in 2015. The Middle East held a 5pc market share in 2016, up 9.1pc over 2015.
All the busiest airport pairs are in Asia.
The busiest is Hong Kong-Taipei, which handled 5.2 million passengers last year. Second was Jakarta-Singapore, with 3.4 million.
The Dublin-London route is one of the busiest city pairs in the world, and the busiest in Europe, with close to 5 million passengers flying between the two capitals. But the city pair includes all airports at London, rather than just one, so it doesn't make the top global airport pairs.
IATA said that low-cost carriers accounted for 28.3pc of all global air passengers last year. That compared to 27.1pc in 2015. Traditional network carriers carried 69.5pc of all passengers last year, while leisure carriers handled 2.2pc of the total.