Travel Scene: Grounded economy didn't prevent air traffic from taking off

Despite up-and-down global economies, airline passenger traffic continued to grow last year, with a new report showing the world's airports served more than 5.7 billion passengers in 2012. The figure represents a 4.4 percent growth from the previous year, according to the annual airline passenger report issued by the Airlines Council International.

As it has for the past several years, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the busiest airport in the world, with 95 million passengers going through its turnstiles, according to the report. That marked an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous year.

Second busiest in the world was Beijing Capital International Airport, with nearly 82 million passengers last year, an increase of 4.1 percent. London's Heathrow Airport was third with 70 million passengers, an increase of just less than 1 percent.

Next highest, according to the report, were Tokyo International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International, Paris Charles DeGaulle, Dallas-Fort Worth International, Jakarta and Dubai.

In other findings from the report: Atlanta's airport also topped the list with aircraft movements — takeoffs and landings — with 930,000 in 2012. Chicago O'Hare was second with 878,000 movements and Los Angeles International third with 699.000 movements.


Hong Kong's airport handled 4.1 million metric tons of cargo for first in that category, while Memphis — home of FedEx — was second with 4.0 million metric tons.

Protection due for Venice waterways

The days of cruise ships traveling along Venice's famed waterways will shortly either be banned or severely limited, according to news reports.

New proposals from Italy's environmental minister that were prompted by the death of a German tourist were made public recently. The tourist was crushed to death by a reversing water bus as he took his family by gondola near the famed Rialto Bridge, says Global Travel Industry News.

New safety regulations include a "floating congestion zone" on the Grand Canal to ease the chaotic rush-hour waterway traffic. "Breathalyser tests for gondoliers are also imminent," according to Global Travel Industry News.

Local residents have long been opposed and lobbied against the presence of large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon. Opponents say the large ships erode the nearby canals and damage the city's fragile foundations, which contribute to the worsening flooding that occurs every winter.

Venice's rising waters, which residents fear will gradually sink the city, are obvious to any visitor. Post-Bulletin cruisers have visited the famous city-on-the-water several times on recent Mediterranean cruises.

The new proposals would limit ships of 500 tons or more from coming within two nautical miles of such places as the Venice lagoon. If these proposals become effective, cruise ships might have to dock at other ports nearby. Other solutions under consideration include construction of a floating off-shore port or dredging a new approach to the lagoon, according to press reports.


Iran tourism

The new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is hoping to fix Iran's crumbling economy, and he said he hopes international tourism may be part of the answer.

According to the New York Times News Service, Rouhani would like Iran to attract 6 million more foreign visitors per year. The country's international tourism is 4 million. Such an increase would create 4 million jobs. Iran has about 3.5 million unemployed.

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