IATA's global passenger traffic results
for January 2018 show that traffic (revenue passenger kilometers or
RPKs) rose 4.6% compared to January 2017.
That's the slowest
year-on-year increase in nearly four years, but results were
affected by temporary factors including the later timing of the
Lunar New Year in 2018 as well as less favorable comparisons with
the strong upward trend in traffic seen in late 2016-early 2017.
IATA estimates the impact of the later Lunar New
Year-related travel period holiday represented around two-fifths
of the slowdown in year-on-year growth for the month. January
capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) rose 5.3%, and load
factor slipped half a percentage point to 79.6%.
the slower start, economic momentum is supporting rising passenger
demand in 2018. That said, concerns over a possible trade war
involving the US could have a serious dampening effect on global
market confidence, spilling over into demand for air travel," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
International passenger demand growth slowed to 4.4% in
January, from 6.1% in December, with all regions recording growth,
led by Latin America and Europe. Capacity rose 5.3% and load
factor dipped 0.7 percentage point to 79.6%.
Asia-Pacific carriers recorded a demand increase of 4.6% compared
to January 2017, which was a 46-month low. This largely was owing
to the impact of the later Lunar New Year, which fell in
mid-February this year. Capacity rose 6.1%, and load factor
dropped 1.2 percentage points to 80.4%.
carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.0% in January compared
to the year-ago period, up from 5.8% growth in December 2017. The
region was the only one to see an acceleration in traffic compared
to the prior month. This is being supported by the buoyant
economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 5.0% and load
factor was up 0.7 percentage point to 80.8%.
East carriers had the weakest growth, with demand up just 0.5%
compared to January 2017, the slowest pace since September 2008.
The market to/from North America has been especially hard hit
owing to factors 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. Capacity climbed 4.6% and load
factor fell 3.1 percentage points to 76.8%.
American airlines experienced a 3.5% rise in traffic over a year
ago, but capacity rose 4.3% and load factor dipped 0.7 percentage
point compared to a year ago to 79.6%. The relatively healthy
economic backdrop in the region is helping support outbound demand
but this is being partly offset by a negative impact on inbound
traffic to the US.
Latin American airlines’ traffic
climbed 7.3% in January compared to January 2017, strongest among
the regions. Capacity rose 8.2% however, and load factor slipped
0.7 percentage point to 82.6%, which still was the highest among
the regions. Stronger economic conditions in Europe are helping
support rising demand on the market between Europe and South
America in particular.
African airlines saw January
traffic rise 4.9% against a mixed backdrop for the region’s
largest economies. In Nigeria, business confidence has risen
sharply while in South Africa, political uncertainly continues to
inflict an economic toll. The region’s capacity rose 4.2%, and
load factor edged up 0.5 percentage point to 70.3%.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic traffic climbed 5.1%
in January year-on-year, down from 7% growth recorded in December.
The slowdown is entirely attributable to the later Lunar New Year
holiday period in 2018. All markets showed growth, led by India,
which experienced its 41st consecutive month of double-digit
traffic increases. Domestic capacity increased 5.3% and load
factor slid 0.2 percentage point to 79.8%.
domestic traffic rose 6.6% in January, which was a slowdown
compared to 14.1% year-on-year growth in December. With the
Lunar New Year falling in February, that month is expected to see
a big jump in annual traffic growth.
domestic traffic grew 7.9% compared to January 2017. Traffic is
being supported by strong economic conditions, helped by higher
"Aviation is the
business of freedom. It liberates us from the constraints of
geography, distance and time, enabling us to lead better lives;
and it makes the world a better place. For the business of freedom
to grow the benefits it generates, we need borders that are open
to trade and travel, and infrastructure to support the demand for
connectivity. Governments have the main role to play in these areas by preserving the benefits of global commerce and ensuring
adequate airport and airspace capacity to cope with an expected doubling of demand by 2036," said de Juniac.