IATA's global passenger traffic results for
February 2017 show a second month of strong demand growth.
Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 4.8%,
compared to the same month last year.
Although this was below
growth achieved in January, year-to-year comparisons are distorted
because February 2016 was a leap month.
Adjusting for the one
fewer day this year, the underlying growth rate was estimated at
8.6%, just under January’s increase of 8.9%.
(available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 2.7%, and load
factor rose 1.6 percentage points to 79.5%, which was the highest
ever recorded for February.
“The strong demand momentum
from January has continued, supported by lower fares and a
healthier economic backdrop. Although we remain concerned over the
impact of any travel restrictions or closing of borders, we have
not seen the attempted US ban on travel from six countries
translate into an identifiable traffic trend. Overall travel
demand continues to grow at a robust rate,” said Alexandre de
Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
that allowing for inflation, the price of air travel has fallen by
more than 10% in real terms over the past year, accounting for
more than half the growth in RPKs in early 2017.
February international passenger demand rose 5.8%
compared to February 2016, which was down compared to the 9.1%
yearly increase recorded in January. Adjusting for the leap year,
however, growth actually accelerated slightly compared to January.
Total capacity climbed 3.4%, and load factor rose 1.8 percentage
points to 78.4%.
European carriers saw February demand
increase by 6.5% compared to a year ago. Traffic has resumed its
growth after the terrorist disruptions in 2016, supported in part
by momentum in the regional economy. Capacity climbed 3.4% and
load factor surged 2.4 percentage points to 81.1%.
Asia Pacific airlines’ February traffic rose 5.2% compared to the
year-ago period, maintaining the strong momentum of the past few months. Intra-Asia traffic remains robust and conditions on the
Asia-Europe route have continued to recover from last year’s terrorism-related slowdown. Capacity increased 2.9% and load
factor climbed 1.7 percentage points to 79.8%.
East carriers had the strongest growth, with a 9.5% demand
increase in February compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 7% and
load factor climbed for a fourth consecutive month to 74.3%, up
1.8 percentage points over last year.
airlines’ traffic climbed 0.3%, which was the slowest among the
regions. However, adjusting for the leap year, growth was
estimated at 3.4%. Traffic to/ from Asia continues to move upward
but transatlantic demand has trended sideways since mid-2016.
Capacity inched up 0.1% and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage
point to 75.9%.
Latin American airlines saw February
traffic rise 5.9% compared to February 2016. Capacity increased by
2.8%, boosting load factor 2.3 percentage points to 81.4%, highest
among the regions. Robust international demand within South
America is offsetting weaker traffic to North America, which has
trended downward since mid-2015 and fell by 3.4% in January, the
most recent month for which route-specific results are available.
African airlines continued their recovery, with
February traffic up 7.1% compared to a year ago. This mainly
reflects the upturn on the key route to/from Europe, offsetting
struggles in the region’s biggest economies of Nigeria and South
Africa. Capacity rose 2.3%, and load factor jumped 2.9 percentage
points to 66.0%.
The year has opened with some
shocks - the attempted ban on travel to the US by citizens of six
countries and the restrictions on the carry-on of
items from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa on
direct flights to the US and the UK. The potential implications of
the Brexit talks on the air transport industry are significant and
the political rhetoric of protectionism and closing of borders is
adding to the ambiguity.
"It’s intolerable that governments
continue to add to the uncertainties facing the air transport
industry by failing to engage airline operational know-how on
issues that can damage public confidence. The introduction of
restrictions on the carry-on of large electronic devices was a
missed opportunity and the result was a measure that cannot
stand-up to the scrutiny of public confidence in the long term.
Although Australia’s measures were also implemented without
consulting the industry, they at least demonstrate the potential
to mitigate the threat with less disruptive means. We all want to
keep flying secure. And we can do that most effectively by working
together," said de Juniac.
In tandem, states need to
support the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as it
develops a Global Aviation Security Plan. Additionally, next
month, ICAO member states will consider amendments to Annex 17 of
the Chicago Convention that would require information sharing.
"The security experience of recent years should compel states to
support this," said de Juniac.
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