The Middle East is the only world region that recorded total airline passenger growth at the start of this year, figures from the Airports Council International (ACI) have revealed.
Elsewhere, passenger traffic numbers for January were "universally bleak" with no signs of any short-term improvement.
Europe suffered an 18 percent decrease in domestic traffic, while international traffic fell nine percent. The respective figures for Asia stood at 12 percent and eight percent.
It wasn’t all bad news, however, as Latin American airports Cancun, Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo reported an increase in passenger traffic, as did Charlotte, North Carolina and Indianapolis in the US.
Andreas Schimm, ACI director of economics, said that the airline industry should prepare for "further turbulent times".
"There is a significant downside risk for February 2009 figures, given the likelihood of a continuing deterioration in the global economic climate," he said.
Mr Schimm added that that the downturn will "continue for a while longer" and that airlines should look forward to the "inevitable upswing".
Last month the ACI expressed its concern regarding a new EU Directive on airport charges.