Global air travel passenger demand growth strengthens

11th January 2018 By: Anine Kilian - Contributing Editor Online

The International Air Transport Association said in a statement on Thursday that global passenger traffic results for November 2017 showed continued robust demand.

Total revenue passenger kilometres rose 8% compared with November 2016 – the fastest growth rate in five months – and up from a 7.3% year-on-year rise in October.

Capacity increased by 6.3% and load factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 80.2%. 

"The airline industry is in a good place entering 2018. November’s strong demand gives the industry momentum. The number of unique city-pair connections now tops 20 000,” said director-general Alexandre de Juniac in a statement.

He further noted that passengers now not only have more travel choices than ever, but also the cost of travel in real terms has “never been cheaper”.

He added, however, that challenges remain.

“Security threats continue, infrastructure issues persist, fees and charges are a growing part of the cost base and, in many cases, airports and air traffic management struggle to keep pace with demand and technology advancements.”

These and other challenges can only be addressed in partnership with governments, De Juniac said.

He noted that in doing so, governments need to recognise the enormous value that aviation – the business of freedom – provides to their economies and the world.

November international passenger demand rose 8.1% compared with the same period a year earlier, an increase from 7.3% in October.

Total capacity climbed 6.6% and load factor increased 1.1 percentage points to 78.2%.

African airlines experienced a 7.9% rise in demand compared with November 2016.

Volumes in Africa in recent months have started to trend upwards strongly again in seasonally adjusted terms, in line with an improvement in business confidence in key economies including Kenya and Nigeria.

Indicators in South Africa are still consistent with falling economic activity, where capacity rose 3.7% and load factor climbed 2.7 percentage points to 68.3%.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ November traffic climbed 10.8% compared with the same period last year, driven by strong regional economic growth and continuing expansion of options for travellers.

Capacity increased 8.7% and load factor rose 1.5 percentage points to 78.6%. 

European carriers saw demand increase by 7.9% in November.

“Economic conditions in the region remain very favourable, with business confidence recently having risen to its strongest level in seven years,” said De Juniac.

Capacity climbed 6.2% and load factor rose 1.3 percentage points to 81.9%, which was tied with Latin America as the highest load factor among the regions. 

Middle East carriers had a 4.9% demand increase, which was the lowest among the regions.

“The market segment to and from North America continues to be affected by the now-lifted ban on personal electronic devices, as well as a wider impact stemming from the proposed travel restrictions to the US from certain countries.”

Capacity rose 4.3% and load factor lifted 0.4 percentage point to 70.1%. 

North American airlines’ traffic climbed 6.4% in November.

Capacity rose 6.1% and load factor edged up by 0.2 percentage points to 79.1%.

South American airlines’ November traffic climbed 7.2% compared with November 2016. This was broadly in line with the region’s five-year average growth rate, although on a seasonally adjusted basis volumes are still below the peak level reached in July 2017.

“Capacity also increased by 7.2%, keeping load factor flat at 81.9%,” concluded De Juniac.