IATA's global passenger traffic results for
February 2018 show a rebound in traffic growth following the
slower demand experienced in January, which was owing to temporary
factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018.
Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for
the month rose 7.6%, compared to February 2017, up from 4.6%
year-over-year growth in January. Monthly capacity (available seat
kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.3%, and load factor rose 0.9
percentage point to 80.4%, surpassing the previous record for the
month of 79.5%, which was set in February 2017.
"As expected, we saw a return to stronger demand
growth in February, after the temporary slowdown in January. This
is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid
business confidence. However, increases in fuel prices--and labor
costs in some countries--likely will temper the amount of traffic
stimulation from lower airfares this year," said Alexandre de
Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
February international passenger demand rose
7.2% compared to February 2017, which was up from the 4.2%
increase recorded in January. Led by airlines in Latin America,
all regions recorded better year-on-year growth compared to
January’s results. Total capacity climbed 5.9%, and load factor
rose 1.0 percentage point to 79.3%.
European carriers saw February demand
increase by 6.8% compared to a year ago, a modest acceleration
compared to a 6.0% increase in January. Passenger volumes are
trending upwards at a double-digit annualized rate alongside
supportive economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 5.0%
and load factor increased 1.4 percentage points to 82.2%, highest
Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic
rose 9.1% compared to the year-ago period. Demand is being
supported by healthy regional economic growth and expansion in the
number of routes on offer. Capacity increased 8.4% and load factor
climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.5%.
Middle East carriers recorded a 3.4% demand
increase in February compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 3.9%
and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage point to 74.1%. Carriers in
the region faced significant headwinds over the past year
including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices
as well as the proposed travel bans to the US from some countries
in the region.
North American airlines’ traffic climbed
7.2% in February, supported by the relatively vigorous US economic
backdrop, while the weaker dollar appears to be offsetting some of
the negative impacts on inbound travel. Capacity rose 4.6% and
load factor was up 1.9 percentage points to 78.0%.
American airlines posted the fastest year-on-year growth for a
second consecutive month as February traffic jumped 9.8% compared
to February 2017, up from 8.1% growth in January. Demand continues
to recover from the impacts of the severe 2017 hurricane season.
Capacity increased by 8.9%, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage
point to 81.5%.
African airlines experienced a 6.3% rise in
traffic for the month compared to the year-ago period. The growth
occurred amid an improving regional economic backdrop. Business
confidence in Nigeria has risen sharply over the past 15 months
while a reduction in political uncertainty in South Africa has
contributed to an improvement in business confidence there for the
first time in more than a year. Capacity rose 3.3%, and load
factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 67.8%.
Domestic travel demand rose 8.2% in
February compared to February 2017, up from 4.9% year-over-year
growth in January, with all markets reporting increases, led by
India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 7.0%, and load factor
increased 0.9 percentage point to 82.3%.
It should be noted that the seven
domestic passenger markets for which broken-down data are
available account for 30% of global total RPKs and approximately
82% of total domestic RPKs.
India’s domestic traffic rose
22.9%, the 42nd consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year
demand growth, and load factor exceeded 90% for the first time on
record. Passenger demand continues to be stimulated by network
growth that translates into time savings for air travelers.
Australian domestic traffic rose 3.9% compared to the year-ago
period, which was a 17-month high.
"All around the globe we see the same positive picture of growth
in demand for aviation connectivity. Aviation is the business of freedom, enabling people to lead better lives. Aviation has helped
to lift millions from poverty, but for aviation to deliver even
greater benefits in future, adequate, affordable infrastructure is
a must," said de Juniac. "A case in point is the Latin American
region, where aviation already supports jobs for 5 million people
and $170 billion in GDP. The potential for aviation to do far more
exists, but without concerted action by governments to address
capacity shortfalls, the region could face an infrastructure
crisis in the future. Within the region, Mexico City is the most
critical of the bottlenecks. The current airport was designed for
32 million passengers annually but serves 47 million. The solution
is a new airport which is already under construction. But its
future has been politicized in the current presidential election.
The vital need for the new airport needs to be understood by all."
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