Global passenger traffic remains stable amid slow trend

Global passenger traffic remains stable amid slow trendThe International Air Transport Association (IATA), has announced global passenger traffic results for May, showing a 4.5 per cent surge in demand compared to the same month in 2018. This is in line with the revised April traffic growth of 4.4 per cent and above the recent trough of 3.1 per cent year-on-year growth recorded in March. However, it remains below the 20-year average growth rate of around 5.5 per cent.

Capacity climbed by a modest 2.7 per cent and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 81.5 per cent, surpassing last year’s record load factor of 80.1 per cent.African airlines posted a 2.1 per cent traffic rise in May, compared to the year-ago period, which was up from just 1.1 per cent growth in April. Capacity climbed 0.1 per cent and load factor increased 1.3 percentage points to 67.0 per cent.

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 passenger demand.IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said passenger demand growth, indeed, 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,” de Juniac said.

International traffic demand rose 4.3 per cent in May over the year-ago period, which was down from 5.1 per cent growth in April. All regions recorded growth, led by airlines in Latin America. Total capacity climbed 2.1 per cent, with load factor jumping 1.7 percentage points to 80.4 per cent.

European carriers’ May demand climbed 5.4 per cent over May 2018, a deterioration from the 7.7 per cent year-over-year growth recorded in April. Capacity rose 4.6 per cent and load factor was up 0.7 percentage point to 84.2 per cent, 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.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their traffic rise 4.0 per cent in May compared to the year-ago period, an improvement over the 2.9 per cent increase in April. Capacity increased 3.0 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.8 percentage point to 78.6 per cent. 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 region. de Juniac said aviation remains 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,” he said.

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