IATA's global passenger traffic results for May
2019 shows that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers,
or RPKs) rose 4.5% compared to the same month in 2018.
This was in
line with the revised April traffic growth of 4.4% and above the
recent trough of 3.1% year-on-year growth recorded in March.
However, it remains below the 20-year average growth rate of
around 5.5%. Capacity (available seat kilometers, or ASKs) climbed
by a modest 2.7% and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to
81.5%, surpassing last year’s record load factor of 80.1%.
“Passenger demand growth has slowed compared to
the past two years. This is in line with slumping global trade,
rising trade tensions and weakening business confidence. In this
challenging environment, airlines are managing capacity carefully
in order to optimize efficiency,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s
Director General and CEO.
demand rose 4.3% in May over the year-ago period, which was down
from 5.1% growth in April. All regions recorded growth, led by
airlines in Latin America. Total capacity climbed 2.1%, with load
factor jumping 1.7 percentage points to 80.4%.
European carriers’ May demand climbed 5.4% over May 2018, a
deterioration from the 7.7% year-over-year growth recorded in
April. Capacity rose 4.6% and load factor was up 0.7 percentage
point to 84.2%, which was the highest among regions. Most of the
region’s growth, however, occurred in the first half of 2018, with
demand moving broadly sideways since then.
airlines saw their traffic rise 4.0% in May compared to the
year-ago period, an improvement over the 2.9% increase in April.
Capacity increased 3.0%, and load factor edged up 0.8 percentage
point to 78.6%. This is the second consecutive monthly increase in
demand, but it still represents a soft outcome in a region that
regularly saw double-digit growth rates over the past few years.
The US-China trade tensions continue to weigh upon growth in the
Middle East carriers’ May demand growth
decelerated to 0.8% compared to a year ago, from 3.3% annual
growth recorded in April. This partly reflects the impact of the
structural changes that are underway in the industry in the
region. May capacity plunged 6.1%, and load factor soared 5
percentage points to 73.0%.
North American airlines’
traffic rose 4.8% in May compared to May 2018, a slowdown from
5.6% annual growth in April. Capacity climbed 2.7% and load factor
strengthened 1.7 percentage points to 83.6%. The comparatively
strong US domestic economy, and US dollar is helping to offset any
trade-related softening in international travel.
American airlines experienced a strong 6.7% increase in traffic in
May compared to the same month last year, which was well up from
5.1% growth in April. Passenger demand is currently holding up
well, despite a challenging economic backdrop in a number of
countries. Capacity climbed 4.0% and load factor jumped 2.1
percentage points to 84.0%, second highest among the regions.
African airlines posted a 2.1% traffic rise in May compared
to the year-ago period, which was up from just 1.1% growth in
April. Capacity climbed 0.1% and load factor increased 1.3
percentage points to 67.0%. Traffic between Africa and Europe
continues to expand strongly, but economic growth in South Africa
– a key regional economy and air transport market– contracted
sharply in the first quarter and this is adversely impacting air
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic traffic increased 4.8% in May compared to May 2018,
well above the 3% year-over-year rise recorded in April. Russia
was the only market to see double-digit demand growth. Domestic
capacity rose 3.8% and load factor climbed 0.8 percentage point to
Russia’s domestic traffic rose
10.6% year-over-year, which is up slightly from the 10.4%
year-over-year growth recorded for April. Russia continues to
benefit from favorable economic conditions and lower airfares.
Japan’s domestic traffic rose 6.6% in May, up from 4.1%
growth in April and the strongest performance since summer 2017.
Fare stimulation, combined with robust economic growth,
contributed to the result.
“Aviation is the business of freedom, connecting people and trade
and creating new opportunities for growth and development. But to
be effective, the business of freedom relies on borders that are
open to the movement of people and goods—and aircraft. In recent
weeks, we have seen extensive airspace closures owing to political
tensions. These closures have contributed to longer and less
efficient routings, higher operating costs and increased carbon
emissions. Without any compromise on safety, it is vital that governments work to minimize airspace closures so that the
Business of Freedom can continue to deliver its benefits as
efficiently as possible,” said de Juniac.
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