The number of international passengers rose 2.3 percent to 12.323 million last year from 12.04 million in 2008 despite the global economic crunch, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).
Data from CAB showed that of the total, incoming passengers were up by 4.7 percent to 6.07 million while outgoing passengers increased by 1 percent to 6.25 million.
The airline regulator said of the 43 airline carriers with authority to operate in the country, only 33 airlines operated during the period.
The CAB said Air Nauru, Vietnam Airlines and British Airways ceased flying to the Philippines in 2001, followed by Swissair, Egyptair, Air France and P.T. Bouraq in 2004.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) remained the top contributor to international passenger traffic in 2009 at 3.38 million, but this was slightly lower than the year-ago level of 3.16 million.
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air placed next to PAL in overseas passenger volume at 1.62 million in 2009, higher by 22.72 percent from 1.32 million passengers reported the previous year.
Foreign carrier Cathay Pacific Airways contributed 1.38 million passengers in 2009, placing third highest contributor to the country’s international passenger traffic.
Other carriers with higher passenger traffic were Northwest Airlines, 474,831; Emirates Air, 446,211 passengers; Japan Airlines, 365,196; Korean Air Lines, 377,241 passengers; and Gulf Air, 305,462.
Last month, CAB reported that local travelers via air reached 14.746 million in 2009, higher by more than 25 percent from 11.766 million in 2008.
Domestic air passenger traffic rose at a faster rate of 13 percent compared to 2008.