India achieved the world’s fastest domestic airline passenger growth last year, new industry data reveals.

With annual growth of 18.8% in a market of 80 million domestic passengers, India’s performance surpassed Russia, China and the US.

Russia showed 11.9% growth in a market of 47 million domestic passengers; China 9.7% growth in a market of 394 million and the US 5.4% growth, in a market of 708 million.

This came as airlines worldwide saw carryings rise by 7.2% over 2014 to 3.6 billion, according to Iata’s 60th edition of the World Air Transport Statistics yearbook of the airline industry’s performance.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers at 34% or 1.2 billion passengers, a year-on-year rise of 10%.

Europe achieved a 26.2% market share with passenger numbers up by 6.7% to 935.5 million passengers. Then came North America with a 24.8% market share representing 883.2 million passengers, up 5.2% over 2014.

Latin America saw passengers rise by 4.7% to 267.6 million to give a 7.5% market share. Passengers in the Middle East rose by 8.1% to 188.2 million to give a 5.3% market share.

Africa showed the slowest growth rate of 1.8% to 79.5 million passengers, giving a market share of 2.2%.

The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passengers carried were American Airlines (146.5 million), Southwest Airlines (144.6 million), Delta Air Lines (138.8 million), China Southern Airlines (109.3 million) and Ryanair (101.4 million).

Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2015 with 23% of total scheduled traffic, followed by SkyTeam (20.4%) and Oneworld (17.8%).

The busiest international routes were all in the Asia-Pacific region, topped by Hong Kong to Taipei at 5.1 million followed by Jakarta-Singapore, Bangkok-Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur-Singapore and Hong Kong-Singapore.

The region also represented the top domestic routes, including two within Japan.

Iata director general and CEO Tony Tyler said: “Last year airlines safely carried 3.6 billion passengers – the equivalent of 48% of the Earth’s population – and transported 52.2 million tonnes of cargo worth around $6 trillion. 

“In doing so, we supported some $2.7 trillion in economic activity and 63 million jobs.”