People from the UK were the top nationality flying on international airline routes last year ahead of the US and China.

The UK represented 126.6 million or 8.6% of all global passengers taking international flights in 2018.

Those from the US totalled 111.5 million, or 7.6% of the total, followed by China at 97 million, Germany 94.3 million and France 59.8 million.

The data was revealed by Iata in performance figures for 2018 showing that global air connectivity continues to become more accessible and more efficient.

A total of 4.4 billion passengers flew in the year with the real cost of flying more than halving over the last 20 years.

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The rise of low cost carriers is highlighted by their global market share of available seats rising to 29% from 16% in 2004, reflecting the short-haul nature of their business model.

Budget airline capacity grew by 13.4%, almost doubling the overall industry growth rate of 6.9%.

Overall fuel efficiency improved by more than 12% compared to 2010, according to Iata.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers systemwide at 1.6 billion followed by Europe at 1.1 billion.

However, US carriers American Airlines, Delta and United were the top three airlines ranked by total scheduled passengers kilometres flown, followed by Emirates and Southwest Airlines.


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The busiest international air routes were all in Asia with Hong Kong-Taipai top at 5.4 million passengers in 12 months followed by Bangkok-Hong Kong, Jakarta-Singapore, Seoul-Osaka and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore.

Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before.

“The freedom to fly is more accessible than ever. And our world is a more prosperous place as a result.”

He added: “As with any human activity this comes with an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing.

“We understand that sustainability is essential to our license to spread aviation’s benefits. From 2020 we will cap net carbon emissions growth. And, by 2050, we will cut our net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels.

“This ambitious climate action goal needs government support. It is critical for sustainable aviation fuels, new technology and more efficient routes to deliver the greener future we are aiming for.”