THE world's airports recorded solid growth in passenger and cargo traffic for the first nine months of this year, with the Pacific region leading the way in travellers and Latin America the biggest gainer in freight. Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI), which represents more than 400 airports around the world, said global air passenger traffic rose 4.9 per cent between January and September, and cargo traffic increased 8 per cent over the same period last year. The Pacific - which for ACI includes Australasia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, San Francisco and Vancouver - recorded top passenger growth of 7.6 per cent. It processed 269.45 million passengers to September. It also saw cargo growth of 11.3 per cent during the period, with 7.12 million metric tonnes of cargo passing through the region's airports. Aircraft movements increased 6.8 per cent to 3.76 million. Europe took second place for passenger growth, with 535.1 million travellers, representing a rise of 6.6 per cent. It recorded cargo volume growth of 8.5 per cent, to 7.14 million tonnes, and an increase in aircraft movements of 3.8 per cent, to 9.22 million. Next was Asia - which for ACI includes India and Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East - with 45.76 million passengers, representing growth of 3.9 per cent. Cargo volumes jumped 13.3 per cent, with 1.26 million tonnes processed. Aircraft movements rose 2.6 per cent to 503,543. North American airports processed 754.47 million passengers - a rise of 3.3 per cent over the first nine months of last year. Cargo volumes jumped 4.7 per cent on the continent, to 15.09 million tonnes, while movements were almost flat at 19.74 million - a rise of 0.8 per cent. Latin America and the Caribbean saw modest passenger growth of 1.3 per cent, to 82.86 million passengers. Cargo jumped 19.9 per cent, however, to 2.03 million tonnes, although aircraft movements fell 1.3 per cent to 1.61 million. Africa recorded a 1.9 per cent decline in passenger numbers, to 18.39 million. Cargo fell 8.2 per cent to 108,105 tonnes, and aircraft movements dropped 4.9 per cent to 264,239. ACI director general Oris Dunham urged the Asia and Pacific regions to step up infrastructure development in the coming years, as they were forecast to overtake traffic in North America and Europe by 2010. 'Asia and the Pacific need to plan carefully to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of existing facilities,' Mr Dunham said. 'Where new infrastructure is required, airport planners will be challenged to balance the demand for new capacity against ... community interests.' For the month of September, the Pacific recorded the largest rise in passenger traffic, of 8 per cent, over the same month last year. Asia and Europe each saw a passenger rise of 5 per cent. Passenger traffic was flat in both North America and Africa but dropped 4 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Asia recorded a 20 per cent rise in cargo volume growth during September, Latin America and the Caribbean a 9 per cent rise, the Pacific a 7 per cent increase and Europe a 5 per cent gain. It was flat in North America and dropped 11 per cent in Africa.