Global airlines record passenger demand growth
As IATA urges members to be on the alert over terror threats
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has posted a global passenger traffic results for September, showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) grew seven per cent compared to the same month in 2015.
According to IATA, this was the strongest year-on-year increase in seven months. Capacity climbed 6.6 per cent and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage points to 81.1 per cent. Growth in domestic traffic slightly outpaced growth in international traffic.
Meanwhile, African airlines posted an eight per cent rise in traffic, which was matched by an equivalent rise in capacity. Load factor was almost flat at 72.0 per cent.
The strong demand increase largely reflected favourable year-ago comparisons, as economic conditions in much of the continent remain challenging.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre de Juniac, noted that the September’s growth in passenger demand was healthy.“Importantly, this rebound from August weakness suggests that travel demand is showing its resilience in the aftermath of terror attacks.
“We must, of course, be ever-alert to the ongoing terror threat. And overall the industry is still vulnerable to being buffeted by rising geopolitical tensions, protectionist political agendas, and weak economic fundamentals. This will still be a good year for the airline industry’s performance, but our profitability will continue to be hard-won,” de Junaic said.
International RPKs climbed 6.9 per cent with airlines in all regions recording growth compared to 2015. Total capacity climbed 7.2 per cent, causing load factor to slide 0.2 percentage points to 80.4 per cent.
European carriers saw September demand rise 5.2 per cent over September 2015. Capacity rose 5.7 per cent and load factor slipped 0.4 percentage points to 84.8 per cent, which was the highest among regions. Demand growth seems to be returning to normal after the disruption caused by terrorism and political instability.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 8.6 per cent in September compared to the year-ago period, although there are still signs of Asian travelers being put off by terrorism in Europe. Capacity increased 7.7 per cent, and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 77.9 per cent.
Middle East carriers had an 11.5 per cent rise in demand in September compared to a year ago, which was the largest increase among regions. Capacity rose faster, however, up 13.8 per cent, and load factor dropped 1.5 percentage points to 73.9 per cent.
North American airlines experienced a 3.3 per cent rise in demand. While the upward trend in international traffic has eased of late, seasonally-adjusted passenger volumes have risen at an annualised rate of six per cent since March. Capacity rose 4.2 per cent and load factor fell 0.7 percentage points to 81.5 per cent.
Latin American airlines’ September traffic rose 7.1 per cent compared to the same month last year, aided by strong demand on international routes within the region. Capacity climbed just 2.4 per cent and load factor surged 3.6 percentage points to 83.7 per cent, second highest among regions.
In the area of domestic demand, the chart climbed by 7.2 per cent in September compared to same period in 2015, which was up from the 4.1 per cent year-on-year growth recorded in August.
India and China continued to experience double-digit annual traffic increases while elsewhere, results were decidedly mixed. All markets except Australia registered all-time highs in September load factors.
October saw the global aviation industry take a major step ahead to ensure that its growth is sustainable. “The nations of the world came together through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree a plan to offset the environmental impact generated by future air traffic growth. In taking this unprecedented step toward achieving long-term sustainability for an entire industrial sector, governments recognized the immense contribution aviation makes to economic development and global well-being.
“In conjunction with our investments in more efficient technologies, infrastructure and operations, this will ensure that aviation can continue to be the business of freedom, connecting our world with safe, efficient, reliable and sustainable air transport,” de Juniac said.