IATA's global passenger traffic results for
September 2019 show that demand, measured in revenue passenger
kilometers or RPKs, climbed 3.8% compared to the same month last
year, broadly unchanged from August’s performance.
Capacity, available seat kilometers or
ASKs, increased by 3.3%, and load factor climbed 0.4% percentage
point to 81.9%, which was a record for any September.
“September marked the eighth consecutive month
of below average demand growth. Given the environment of declining
world trade activity and tariff wars, rising political and
geopolitical tensions and a slowing global economy, it is
difficult to see the trend reversing in the near term,” said
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
passenger demand rose 3.0%, compared to September 2018, which was
a decline from 3.6% year-on-year growth achieved in August. All
regions recorded traffic increases, led by airlines in North
America. Capacity climbed 2.6%, and load factor edged up 0.3
percentage point to 81.6%.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw
September traffic increase 3.6% compared to the year-ago period,
an increase over the 3.3% annual growth recorded in August.
Despite the uptick, growth remains well below that seen in 2018.
This is occurring amid a weaker economic backdrop in some of the
region’s key states as well as trade tensions between the US and
China and, more recently, between Japan and South Korea. Political
unrest in Hong Kong has also contributed to subdued regional
demand and led to sharp capacity cuts to/from the hub. Capacity
rose 5.0% and load factor slid 1.1 percentage points to 78.2%.
European carriers experienced a 2.9% rise in September
traffic, the region’s weakest performance this year and a decline
from the 4.2% year-over-year rise recorded in August. In addition
to slowing economic activity and faltering business confidence in
many of the key European economies, the result was also affected
by the demise of a number of airlines, along with pilot strikes.
Capacity rose 2.5%, and load factor climbed 0.3 percentage point
to 86.9%, which was the highest among regions.
Eastern airlines posted a 1.8% traffic increase in September,
which was a slowdown from a 2.9% rise in August. Capacity was up
just 0.2%, with load factor climbing 1.2 percentage points to
75.2%. International traffic growth continues to be affected by a
mix of structural challenges in some of the region’s large
airlines, geopolitical risks and weaker business confidence in
North American carriers’ international
demand climbed 4.3% compared to September 2018, well up from the
2.9% growth recorded in August and the strongest performance among
the regions. Capacity rose 1.6%, and load factor accelerated 2.2
percentage points to 83.0%. Demand is being supported by solid
consumer spending and continued job creation.
American airlines had a 1.2% demand increase in September compared
to a year ago, which was down from 2.3% growth in August. Capacity
fell 1.6% and load factor surged 2.3 percentage points to 82.5%.
Latin American carriers continue to face several challenges
including some weaker economic and business confidence outcomes,
political and social unrest in key states, and currency exposure
to the strengthening US dollar.
African airlines’ traffic
climbed 0.9% in September, a steep fall-off from the 4.1% growth
recorded in August. Looking through the recent volatility in the
numbers, however, traffic growth for the third quarter of 2019
remains solid at around 3% year-over-year. Capacity rose 2.5%,
however, and load factor dipped 1.1 percentage points to 71.7%.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Demand for domestic
travel climbed 5.3% in September compared to September 2018, which
was an improvement over the 4.7% annual growth recorded in August.
Capacity rose 4.7% and load factor increased 0.5 percentage point
airlines saw domestic traffic climb 10.1% in September, well up on
the 2.0% annual increase recorded in August. However, results are
distorted by the weak outcome in September 2018 owing to the
disruption caused by Typhoon Jebi.
US airlines’ domestic
traffic surged 6.0% in September compared to September 2018, up
from 3.9% growth in August year over year. As with Japan, the
performance is somewhat exaggerated owing to the softer demand
environment experienced in 2018. Nevertheless, the demand
environment is robust.
challenging days for the global air transport industry. Pressure
is coming from many directions. In a matter of weeks, four
airlines in Europe went bust. Trade tensions are high and world
trade is declining. The IMF recently revised down its GDP growth
forecasts for 2019 to 3.0%. If correct, this would be the weakest
outcome since 2009, when the world was still struggling with the
Global Financial Crisis,” said de Juniac. “At times like these,
governments should recognize the power of aviation connectivity to
ignite the economy and drive job creation. Instead, too many
governments—in Europe in particular—are fixated on aviation as the
goose that lays the golden eggs of taxes and fees. It’s the wrong
approach. Aviation is the business of freedom. Governments should
harness its power to drive GDP growth, not tie it down through
heavy and punitive tax and regulatory regimes.”