There was a 1.6 percent increase in the demand for flights from passengers over the course of 2008, figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have shown.
The figure is a marked fall from 2007’s figure of 7.4 percent, indicating that the global economic crisis is taking its toll on the aviation industry.
Carriers in Europe saw demand for international flights fall by 2.7 percent in December, while capacity shrank by 1.5 percent.
Airlines in Latin America and the Middle East bucked the trend slightly, with December demand rising by 1.1 percent and 3.9 percent respectively. It is predicted that growth in the Middle East will slow this year due to declines in oil revenue and long-haul hub connection traffic.
Commenting on the figures, Giovanni Bisignani, IATA director general and chief executive officer, said: "2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever for international aviation."
The figures also revealed that international cargo traffic decreased by four percent over the course of the year.
Last month, the IATA welcomed the proposed fourth runway at Frankfurt’s Rhein-Main Airport.