Global passenger traffic rises by 3.4% ahead of peak season

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) yesterday announced global passenger traffic data for October 2019, showing that demand climbed 3.4 per cent compared to the year-ago period. This was a modest slowdown from 3.9 percent growth recorded in September, owing to softer traffic performance in domestic markets. October capacity increased by 2.2 per cent and load factor climbed 0.9 percentage point to 82.0 per cent, which was a record for October.

IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, noted that traffic growth continued to be depressed compared to historical long-term growth levels, reflecting continued moderating economic activity in some key markets and sagging business confidence.

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“However, the fact that traffic is growing is a positive, and the industry continues to do an excellent job of maximising asset efficiency, as shown in the record load factor,” de Juniac said.

October international passenger demand rose 3.2 percent compared to October 2018, unchanged from September’s year-over-year performance. With the exception of Latin America, all regions recorded increases, led by Middle East airlines for the first time since June 2018. Capacity climbed 1.6 percent, and load factor rose 1.3 percentage points to 81.0 percent.

African airlines’ traffic climbed 1.8 per cent in October, the same as in September. Economic slowdown in South Africa may have weighed on the recent moderation in demand growth. Capacity rose 3.6 percent, however, and load factor dipped 1.3 percentage points to 69.0 per cent.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ October traffic increased 3.8 per cent compared to the year-ago period, a bit below the 4.0 per cent annual growth recorded in September and well down on 2018 growth largely owing to weaker business confidence in a number of key markets, the impact of the US-China trade war and the recent disruptions in Hong Kong. Capacity rose 2.7 percent and load factor edged up 0.9 percentage point to 79.6 percent.

European carriers saw October demand climb 2.1 percent year-to-year, down from 3.2 percent growth in September. On a seasonally-adjusted basis traffic is showing a moderate upward trend despite generally soft economic activity in some of the key markets. Capacity rose 1.3 percent, and load factor climbed 0.7 percentage point to 85.7 percent, which was the highest among regions.

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Middle Eastern airlines posted a 5.9 percent traffic increase in October, which was a sharp increase over the 1.8 percent growth seen in September and throughout the year. Capacity increased 0.3 percent, and load factor surged 3.9 percentage points to 73.5 percent.

North American carriers had the second highest international demand in October, with traffic up 4.1 percent compared to October a year ago and largely in-line with a 4.3 per cent annual increase in September. Growth is underpinned by a solid U.S. economy and robust consumer spending. Capacity rose 2.0 percent, and load factor grew by 1.6 percentage points to 82.1 percent.

“The airline industry has faced strong headwinds in 2019 but continues to enable the global connectivity that supports world trade and greater understanding among peoples and cultures, things we can definitely use more of, particularly in this time of trade wars and geopolitical tension. Next week, IATA will hold our annual Global Media Days, bringing together journalists and bloggers from around the world. We will present our updated economic forecast, and an in-depth look at our environmental activities among other subjects. I look forward to this opportunity to discuss and debate the key issues and initiatives facing commercial aviation with our colleagues in the media,” de Juniac said.

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