Despite March slowdown, latest figures show international airline traffic remains buoyant

Issues & Trends – May 2014

Despite March slowdown, latest figures show
international airline traffic remains buoyant

IATA global passenger traffic results for March show a moderation of the pace of growth in demand.
But the good news for the world’s airlines is that traffic continues to grow. The association reported total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased by a healthy 3.1 per cent in March compared to the same month last year.

While it is true that this represents a slowdown by comparison with February’s year-on-year increase of 5.6 per cent, cumulative growth for the first quarter of 2014 was 5.6 per cent, which is a slight improvement over the 5.2 per cent achieved in the corresponding three months of 2013.

“After a number of very strong months we are seeing a slowing of demand growth, said IATA director general Tony Tyler. “The strong performance of advanced economies nevertheless is likely to support the continued growth of traffic in the coming months.”

International passenger numbers (as distinct from RPKs) rose 2.6 per cent in March, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.4 per cent increase in February. With capacity rising 5.5 per cent, load factors fell 2.3 percentage points to 78.0 per cent.

Asia Pacific carriers experienced some of the weakest traffic growth in March with international passenger numbers rising just 1.1 per cent compared to a year ago.

Part of this is attributable to the relative slowdown in demand after the positive impacts from the Lunar New Year in January/February.

“But the result is also probably owing to downward pressure from continued weakness in the Chinese economy, as well as a recent contraction in regional trade volumes,” an IATA statement opined.

The region’s capacity rose 5.3 per cent and load factor fell 3.1 percentage points to 76 per cent.
European carriers’ international traffic climbed 2.0 per cent in March compared to the year-ago period, down from a 5.7 per cent growth rate a month earlier.

IATA suggests the slowdown may be linked to weaker economic performance in emerging markets. 
Capacity rose 4.6 per cent and load factor slipped two percentage points to 79.6 per cent.

North American airlines saw demand rise 0.6 per cent in March compared to a year ago, a slowdown on the February growth rate of 2.0 per cent. The result was at least partly weather related. With capacity up 4.7 per cent, load factor fell 3.3 percentage points to 80 per cent.

Middle East carriers had the strongest year-on-year traffic growth in March at 10.0 per cent with the region’s airlines continuing to benefit from the strength of local economies.

Capacity rose 10.7 per cent, however, and load factor dipped 0.5 percentage points to 79.5 per cent.
Latin America was the only region to see growth increase in March com-pared to February, with the region’s carriers registering a rise of 4.7 per cent year-on-year, just ahead of the 4.2 per cent achieved in February.

Latin America was also the only region to hike load factors – 78.8 per cent compared to 77.0 per cent in March 2013.


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