International Air Transport Association (IATA) has disclosed a 7.6 per cent rise in global traffic movement for the month of February 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.
The result shows a rebound in traffic growth following the slower demand experienced in January, which was owing to temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018.
IATA, the clearing house for 280 airlines globally, noted that monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.3 per cent, and load factor rose 0.9 percentage point to 80.4 per cent, surpassing the previous record for the month of 79.5 per cent, which was set in February 2017.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said the return to stronger demand growth in February was expected, after the temporary slowdown in January.
De Juniac added: “This is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid business confidence.
However, increases in fuel prices—and labor costs in some countries—likely will temper the amount of traffic stimulation from lower airfares this year.”
February international passenger demand rose 7.2 per cent compared to February 2017, which was up from the 4.2 per cent increase recorded in January. Led by airlines in Latin America, all regions recorded better year-on-year growth compared to January’s results.
Total capacity climbed 5.9 per cent, and load factor rose 1.0 percentage point to 79.3 per cent.
African airlines experienced a 6.3 per cent rise in traffic for the month compared to the year-ago period. The growth occurred amid an improving regional economic backdrop.
“Business confidence in Nigeria has risen sharply over the past 15 months while a reduction in political uncertainty in South Africa has contributed to an improvement in business confidence there for the first time in more than a year.
Capacity rose 3.3 per cent, and load factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 67.8 per cent,” IATA stated.
European carriers also saw February demand increase by 6.8 per cent compared to a year ago, a modest acceleration compared to a 6.0 per cent increase in January.
Passenger volumes are trending upwards at a double-digit annualised rate alongside supportive economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 5.0 per cent and load factor increased 1.4 percentage points to 82.2 per cent, highest among regions.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic rose 9.1 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Demand is being supported by healthy regional economic growth and expansion in the number of routes on offer.
Capacity increased 8.4 per cent and load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.5 per cent.
Middle East carriers recorded a 3.4 per cent demand increase in February compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 3.9 per cent and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage point to 74.1 per cent.
Carriers in the region faced significant headwinds over the past year including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices as well as the proposed travel bans to the U.S. from some countries in the region.
North American airlines’ traffic climbed 7.2 per cent in February, supported by the relatively vigorous U.S. economic backdrop, while the weaker dollar appears to be offsetting some of the negative impacts on inbound travel. Capacity rose 4.6 per cent and load factor was up 1.9 percentage points to 78.0 per cent .
Latin American airlines posted the fastest year-on-year growth for a second consecutive month as February traffic jumped 9.8 per cent compared to February 2017, up from 8.1 per cent growth in January.
Demand continues to recover from the impacts of the severe 2017 hurricane season. Capacity increased by 8.9 per cent, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage point to 81.5 per cent.