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Strong Global Air Passenger Demand Resumes; Record Load Factor in February

Airplane in the air at Flughafen Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria - Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

Strong Global Air Passenger Demand Resumes

IATA announced global passenger traffic results for February showing a rebound in traffic growth following the slower demand experienced in January

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for February showing a rebound in traffic growth following the slower demand experienced in January, which was owing to temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018.

Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for the month rose 7.6%, compared to February 2017, up from 4.6% year-over-year growth in January. Monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.3%, and load factor rose 0.9 percentage point to 80.4%, surpassing the previous record for the month of 79.5%, which was set in February 2017. 

“As expected, we saw a return to stronger demand growth in February, after the temporary slowdown in January. This is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid business confidence. However, increases in fuel prices–and labor costs in some countries–likely will temper the amount of traffic stimulation from lower airfares this year,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. 

International Passenger Markets 

FEBRUARY 2018 (% YEAR-ON-YEAR) WORLD SHARE (1) RPK ASK PLF- %-PT (​2) PLF- LEVEL(​3)
Total Market 100.0% 7.2% 6.3% 0.9​% 80.4%
Africa 2.2% 2.1% 0.2% 1.3% 68.8%
Asia Pacific 33.7% 10.1% 9.3% 0.6% ​82.1%
Europe 26.5​% 7.0% 4.9% 1.6% 81.6%
Latin America 5.2% 7.2% 6.1% 0.9% ​81.4%
Middle East ​​9.5% 3.7% 3.9% -0.2% 74.0%
North America 23.0% 6.5% 5.0​% 1.1% 80.6​%

(1) % of industry RPKs in 2016 (2) Year-on-year change in load factor (3) Load factor level

February international passenger demand rose 7.2% compared to February 2017, which was up from the 4.2% increase recorded in January. Led by airlines in Latin America, all regions recorded better year-on-year growth compared to January’s results. Total capacity climbed 5.9%, and load factor rose 1.0 percentage point to 79.3%.

Domestic Passenger Markets 

FEB 2018 (% YEAR-ON-YEAR) WORLD SHARE 1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Domestic 36.2% 8.2% 7.0% 0.9​% 82.3%
Dom. Australia (4) 0.9% 3.9% 0.5% 2.6% 77.3%
Dom. Brazil (4) 1.2% 4.5% 3.4% 0.8% ​80.1%
Dom. China P.R. (4) 9.1​% 11.8% 13.1% -0.9% 85.3%
Dom. India (4) 1.4% 22.9% 17.7% 3.9% 90.7%
Dom. Japan (4) ​​1.1% 5.8% 2.1% 2.5% 71.8%
Dom. Russian Fed (4) 1.4% 6.6% 1.3% 3.8% 77.9%
​Dom. USA (4) 14.5%​ 6.2% 5.2% 0.7% 81.9%​

(1) % of industry RPKs in 2016 
(2) Year-on-year change in load factor 
(3) Load factor level 
(4) The seven domestic passenger markets for w hich broken-dow n data are available account for 30% of global total RPKs and approximately 82% of total domestic RPKs 

Domestic travel demand rose 8.2% in February compared to February 2017, up from 4.9% year-over-year growth in January, with all markets reporting increases, led by India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 7.0%, and load factor increased 0.9 percentage point to 82.3%.

The Bottom Line 

“All around the globe we see the same positive picture of growth in demand for aviation connectivity. Aviation is the business of freedom, enabling people to lead better lives. Aviation has helped to lift millions from poverty, but for aviation to deliver even greater benefits in future, adequate, affordable infrastructure is a must. 
 
“A case in point is the Latin American region, where aviation already supports jobs for 5 million people and $170 billion in GDP. The potential for aviation to do far more exists, but without concerted action by governments to address capacity shortfalls, the region could face an infrastructure crisis in the future. Within the region, Mexico City is the most critical of the bottlenecks. The current airport was designed for 32 million passengers annually but serves 47 million. The solution is a new airport which is already under construction. But its future has been politicized in the current presidential election. The vital need for the new airport needs to be understood by all,” said de Juniac.

View full February passenger report (pdf)

Posted by on April 10, 2018.

Categories: Travel Trends

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