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Global air passenger traffic peaks by 6.5% in 2018, says IATA


IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic results for 2018, showing that demand rose by a healthy 6.5 per cent compared to full-year 2017.

Although this represented a slowdown compared to the 2017 annual growth of 8.0 per cent, it was another year of above-trend growth.

Full year 2018 capacity climbed 6.1 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage points to a record 81.9 per cent, exceeding the previous high set in 2017.

December demand rose 5.3 per cent against the same month in 2017, the slowest year-over-year pace since January 2018 and a continuation of the trend that saw demand growth decelerate to an annualised rate of five per cent over the course of the 2018 second half, compared to a nine per cent pace in the first half.


IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said 2018 was another year of strong passenger demand, as aviation continued to support the global economy.

“We expect similar, if somewhat moderating performance in 2019. Nevertheless, slowing growth in the second half of 2018, coupled with concerns over issues including Brexit and US-China trade tensions, are creating some uncertainty to this positive outlook,” de Juniac said.

International passenger traffic in 2018 climbed 6.3 per cent compared to 2017, down from 8.6 per cent annual growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.7 per cent and load factor climbed by 0.4 percentage point to 81.2 per cent.

All regions recorded year-over-year increases in traffic, led by Asia-Pacific. However, North America and Africa were the only two regions to post stronger demand growth in 2018 compared to the prior year’s performance.

African airlines saw 2018 traffic rise 6.5 per cent compared to 2017, which was an increase compared to 6.0 per cent annual growth in 2017.

The strong performance took place in spite of the mixed economic backdrop of the continent’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa. Capacity rose 4.4 per cent, and load factor jumped 1.4 percentage points to 71.0 per cent.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ 2018 traffic rose 7.3 per cent, compared to 2017, driven by robust regional economic expansion and an increase in route options for travellers.

Although this was a slowdown from the 10.5 per cent year-over-year growth recorded in 2017 versus 2016, it was strong enough to lead all the regions for a second consecutive year. Capacity rose 6.4 per cent, and load factor ticked up 0.7 percentage point to 80.6 per cent.

European carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.6 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year, which was down from 9.4 per cent growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.9 per cent and load factor increased 0.6 percentage point to 85.0 per cent, which was the highest for any region.


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Alexandre de JuniacIATA
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