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Local carriers, others record marginal air traffic growth

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Passenger traffic in Nigeria and other African countries recorded a 4.9 percent growth at the closing stages of 2019.The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) global passenger traffic results for November 2019 showed that the uptick was an improvement from the 2.3 per cent recorded in the region in October last year.

The traffic growth was also confirmed by the President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, saying that the local market did increased by at least 10 percent in 2019.“The industry has grown by about 10 percent. There are African airlines that derive more than 60 percent of their market from Nigeria. They cannot fully disclose their gains here for obvious reasons. There is stability in the system and the currency is also stable. With better policy to drive enabling environment, the sector can contribute more to the economy,” Bankole said.

IATA, the clearing house for 280 airlines worldwide, estimated that global demand rose 3.3 percent in November, compared to the same month in 2018. This was unchanged from October’s result and below the long-term trend. Capacity increased by 1.8 percent, and load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 81.1 per cent, which was a record for any November. All regions saw annual increases in traffic.

IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said November’s moderate result reflects the continuing influence of slower economic activity, geopolitical tensions and other disruptions, including strikes in Europe. “On the plus side, positive developments in the U.S.-China trade talks, in tandem with signs of improving business confidence, could support an uptick in travel demand. In the meantime, continued modest capacity growth is helping to maximise asset efficiency,” he said.November’s international passenger demand rose 3.1 per cent, compared to November 2018, which was a marginal increase from the 3.0 percent year-over-year growth achieved in October.

All regions recorded traffic increases, except for Latin America. Capacity climbed 0.7 percent, and load factor increased 1.8 percentage points to 80.1 percent. Asia-Pacific airlines saw November traffic increase 3.9 percent compared to the 2018 period, a slight decline compared to the 4.2 per cent yearly growth recorded in October. Capacity rose 2.8 per cent and load factor rose 0.8 percentage point to 79.9 percent.

While seasonally-adjusted volumes are increasing, the trend has moderated. Disruptions in Hong Kong, slowing demand in India and China and less supportive business confidence in several key economies are among the contributing factors.

European carriers experienced a 1.2 per cent increase in November traffic, down from 1.6 per cent growth in October and the weakest outcome since early 2013. Industrial actions (strikes) disrupted operations for a number of airlines during the month, contributing to the demand slowdown. Capacity dropped 1.1 percent and load factor rose 1.8 percentage points to 83.8 percent.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 7.4 per cent traffic increase in November, up from a 5.6 percent rise in October. Capacity was flat, and load factor soared 5.0 percentage points to 73.2 percent. The strong performance was driven by robust demand on to/from Asia and Europe markets. North American carriers’ international demand climbed 2.3 percent compared to November 2018, down from the 3.6 percent growth recorded in October.

Despite a slowing in economic activity, fundamentals remain generally sound for the region, although the rise in geopolitical tensions may impact international demand going forward. Capacity rose 1.6 percent, and load factor accelerated 0.6 percentage point to 81.2 percent. Latin American airlines had a 0.3 percent traffic decline in November compared to a year ago, in line with October’s decline. Capacity slipped 1.8 per cent and load factor increased 1.3 percentage points to 82.1 percent. Economic headwinds and/or social unrest in a number of countries in the region contributed to the lowered result.

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