July 08, 2013

IATA: Strong passenger growth trend continues


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for May showing that air travel continued to expand at a healthy rate. Growth was led by emerging markets. Compared to the year-ago period, overall demand rose 5.6%.

May international passenger demand rose 5.7% compared to the year-ago period, with capacity up 5.6%. Load factor was flat at 77.0%. The strongest growth occurred in the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

- European carriers recorded 5.6% growth on international services compared to May 2012. The underlying growth trend has also picked up, suggesting that improving consumer and business confidence in Europe could be supporting stronger growth in air travel demand. Capacity growth of 4.4% meant that load factor climbed 0.9% percentage points to 79.1%, the second highest among the regions.

- Asia-Pacific airlines’ international traffic rose 3.7% in May compared to the year-ago period but this was more than offset by a 5.5% rise in capacity with the result that load factor slipped 1.3 percentage points to 74.1%. The softness in demand is consistent with falls in business confidence in major Asian economies as well as a slowdown in trade growth momentum. In particular GDP growth in China did not meet expectations in the first quarter and business confidence has slipped to levels indicating contraction in manufacturing activity.

- North American airlines’ international traffic climbed 3.0% in May versus May 2012. This was the slowest rise among the regions but with capacity up just 1.7%, load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 83.4%, the highest for any region. The May growth was almost double the year-to-date growth of 1.6% but the underlying economic picture is less positive. US manufacturing activity slowed for the third consecutive month in May. Moreover, trade volumes look even weaker than the global trend.

- Middle East carriers had the strongest year-on-year traffic growth for any region at 11.7%. But with capacity up 12.8%, load factor declined 0.7 percentage points to 73.5%. Demand for air travel in the Middle East and Africa has benefitted from continued expansion in trade volumes since late 2011.

- African airlines’ traffic climbed 9.8% in May, second highest among the regions. In addition to responding to expanding trade volumes, African carriers are also benefitting from a sustained increase in trade through developing links to Asia and the Middle East, as well as from strong GDP growth in local economies, particularly in Western Africa. Capacity rose 7.4% in May, raising load factor 1.4 percentage points to 66.2%.

- Latin American carriers saw demand rise 7.9% compared to May 2012, while capacity climbed 8.9%, depressing the load factor 0.7 percentage points to 77.4%. The outlook for air travel in the region appears to be solid with trade volumes experiencing strong expansion in the second quarter.

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