IATA’s global passenger traffic results for
March 2014 show a moderation of the pace of growth in demand.
Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased 3.1% compared
to March 2013. Although this represented a slowdown in comparison
to the February year-on-year traffic increase of 5.6%, cumulative
traffic growth for Q1 2014 was 5.6%, which is a slight improvement
over the 5.2% overall growth achieved in 2013.
“After a number of very strong months we are
seeing a slowing of demand growth. The strong performance of
advanced economies nevertheless is likely to support the continued
growth of traffic in the coming months,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s
Director General and CEO.
International passenger traffic rose 2.6% in
March, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.4% increase in
February. Capacity rose 5.5% and load factor fell 2.3 percentage
points to 78.0%. Most regions experienced a slowdown in
year-on-year growth rates.
Asia Pacific carriers experienced some of
weakest traffic growth in March with international traffic up just
1.1% compared to a year ago. Part of this is attributable to the
relative slowdown in demand after the positive impacts from the
Lunar New Year in January/February. But the result is also
probably owing to downward pressure from continued weakness in the
Chinese economy, as well as a recent contraction in regional trade
volumes. Capacity rose 5.3% and load factor fell 3.1 percentage
points to 76%.
European carriers’ international traffic
climbed 2.0% in March compared to the year-ago period, down from a
5.7% growth rate a month earlier. The slowdown may be linked to
weaker economic performance in emerging markets given that
Europe’s economic performance has been undergoing a continuous,
steady improvement since mid-2013. Capacity rose 4.6% and load
factor slipped 2 percentage points to 79.6%.
North American airlines saw demand rise 0.6%
in March compared to a year ago, a slowdown on the February growth
rate of 2.0%. Weakness in international air travel growth for
North American carriers is likely in part due to the
weather-related slowdown in the first quarter. With capacity up
4.7%, load factor fell 3.3 percentage points to 80%.The latest
data suggest that growth trends in business activity are positive
and downward pressure on employment is easing, which could support stronger growth in the future.
Middle East carriers
had the strongest year-on-year traffic growth in March at 10.0% as
airlines continue to benefit from the strength of regional
economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel. The
Gulf nations are benefitting from acceleration in non-oil sectors
of their economies and positive developments in sectors such as
trade, transport and tourism. Capacity rose 10.7% however, and
load factor dipped 0.5 percentage points to 79.5%.
Latin America was the only region to see an improvement in March
compared to February, with regional carriers registering a rise of
4.7% year-on-year, compared to 4.2% in the prior month. The
outlook for Latin American carriers remains positive, with
continued robust performance from economies like Colombia, Peru
and Chile. Latin America was the only region with an increase in
load factor- in March load factor was 78.8%, up from 77.0% in the
African airlines experienced the
only contraction in demand among the regions, with demand down
2.6% from a year ago. The weakness in international air travel
could be in part from the adverse economic developments in some
parts of the continent, namely the slowdown of South Africa.
Airlines in Africa have seen virtually no growth - only 0.2% -
during the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in
Domestic Passenger Markets
The growth of
domestic markets slowed in March, rising 4.0% on a year ago,
compared to 5.8% in February, but there was significant variation
among the largest markets. With capacity up 4.9%, load factor
slipped 0.8 percentage points to 80.5%.
Growth was especially strong in the developing economies
of Brazil, Japan and Russia, with all three recording double-digit
increases in demand compared to the year-ago period.
Brazil domestic air traffic rose 12.0% supported by
Carnival-related travel, which began at the end of February and continued into March. Overall, however, the fundamental drivers in
Brazil remain fragile with continued economic weakness suppressing
Russian and Japanese domestic air
travel rose 12.8% and 10.0%, respectively, in March. Japan’s
continued economic expansion has seen domestic air travel recover
strongly over the last nine months while sustained employment and
income growth are supporting the growth in domestic air travel in
Aviation Crucial for
Economic Expansion and Development
“Rising demand for air
travel tapered in March, following months of increasing demand.
Aviation is crucial for economic expansion and development. But it
is up to governments to treat aviation as a partner, not as an
easy target for overly excessive taxation and onerous regulation
or to have its infrastructure needs neglected. When aviation is
treated as an economic enabler the industry is able to rise to its
full potential as a key engine of growth and job creation,” said
Last week, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG)
released new research confirming aviation’s important role in
driving economic growth. Research conducted by Oxford Economics in
ATAG’s Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders publication highlights
that globally aviation supports over 58 million jobs and some $2.4
trillion in economic activity (equal to 3.4% of global GDP).
“Every day nearly 100,000 flights carry 8.6 million passengers
and $17.5 billion of goods to their destination. This activity not
only helps to drive economies forward, it enriches the world by
bringing people together in a global community,” said Tyler.
From 1-3 June 2014 the global aviation community will meet for
the IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in
“Qatar is a great example of a country in which
aviation is playing a very strategic role in driving growth and
prosperity. It is a great location to remind people of the
potential of aviation as the industry celebrates its 100th anniversary,” said Tyler.
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