IATA's global passenger traffic results
for March 2019 shows that demand (measured in revenue passenger
kilometers, or RPKs) rose 3.1% when compared to the same month a year
ago, the slowest pace for any month in nine years.
This largely was owing to the timing of the Easter holiday,
which fell nearly a month later than in 2018. On a
seasonally-adjusted basis, the underlying growth rate has been
relatively steady since October 2018 at a 4.1% annualized pace.
Capacity (available seat kilometers, or ASKs) for the month of
March grew 4.2% and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to
“While traffic growth slowed considerably in March,
we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019. Nevertheless, the economic backdrop has become somewhat less
favorable, with the IMF having recently revised its GDP outlook
downward for a fourth time in the past year,” said Alexandre de
Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
March international passenger demand
rose just 2.5% compared to March 2018, which was down from 4.5%
year-on-year growth recorded in February and almost 5 percentage
points below its five-year average pace. All regions showed growth with the exception of the Middle East. Total capacity climbed
4.0%, and load factor fell 1.2 percentage points to 80.8%.
European carriers saw March demand increase 4.7% over March
2018, down from 7.5% annual growth in February. The result partly
reflects falling business confidence in the Eurozone and ongoing
uncertainty about Brexit. March capacity rose 5.4% and load factor
slid 0.6 percentage point to 84.2%, which still was the highest
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic climbed
2.0% in March, compared to the year-ago period, which was down
from 4% growth in February. However, results were stronger on a
seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity increased 4.0%, and load
factor dropped 1.6 percentage points to 80.1%.
East carriers’ passenger demand fell 3.0% in March, marking a
second consecutive month of declining traffic. This reflects the
broader structural changes in the industry which have been taking
place in the region. Capacity increased 2.3%, and load factor
plunged 4.0 percentage points to 73.8%.
airlines posted a 3.0% traffic rise in March compared to the
year-ago period, which was down somewhat from 4.2% year-on-year
growth in February. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, traffic has
been trending strongly upwards, however. Capacity climbed 2.6% and
load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 83.7%.
Latin American airlines had the fastest traffic growth at 5.5%,
compared to a year ago, up from 4.6% in February. March capacity
rose 5.8%, and load factor dipped 0.2 percentage point to 81.9%.
Latin America was the only region to show an increase in the
year-on-year growth rate for March compared to February. In
seasonally-adjusted terms traffic continues to trend upward
sharply, notwithstanding economic and political uncertainty in
some key countries.
African airlines’ demand increased
2.1% compared to March 2018, down from a 2.5% rise in February.
Capacity climbed 1.1%, and load factor strengthened 0.7 percentage
point to 71.4%. The upward traffic trend has softened since
mid-2018 in line with falling business confidence in some of the
region’s key economies.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic demand rose 4.1% in March, which was a
deceleration from 6.2% growth recorded in February that was driven
largely by developments in China and India. Domestic capacity
climbed 4.5%, and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage point to
India’s domestic traffic rose just 3.1% in March,
down from February’s growth of 8.3% and well-off the torrid
five-year average growth pace of close to 20% per month. The
slowdown largely reflects the reduction in flight operations of
Jet Airways—which stopped flying in April—as well as disruptions
at Mumbai airport owing to construction.
domestic traffic fell 3.2% in March, marking the fifth consecutive
month of contracting demand.
“Despite March’s slowdown, the outlook for air travel remains
solid. Global connectivity has never been better. Consumers can
choose from more than 21,000 city pair combinations on more than
125,000 daily flights. And air fares continue to decline in real
terms. Aviation is truly the Business Freedom for the more than
12.5 million passengers who will board flights each day. But it
also remains extremely challenging, as the recent failures of Jet
Airways and WOW Air illustrate. Airlines compete intensely with
one another, but they also cooperate in areas such as safety,
security, infrastructure and the environment, to ensure that
aviation can accommodate a forecast doubling in demand by 2037.
Next month, leaders of the industry will gather in Seoul for the
75th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit
where all of these items will be high on the agenda,” de