The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 5.3%, compared to the same month last year.

Capacity grew slightly faster at 5.9% which pushed the average load factor down by half a percentage point to 79.6%.

March performance shows a moderate slowdown on the year-on-year growth rates recorded in January (7.2%) and February (8.6%) even after adjusting for the leap-year impact in February. Demand for international traffic grew significantly more quickly (6.2%) than that for domestic travel (3.7%).

“While in line with long-term trends, demand growth in March represented a slow-down compared to January and February. It is premature to say whether this marks the end of the recent very strong results. We do expect further stimulus in the form of network expansion and declines in travel costs.

However, the wider economic backdrop remains subdued,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

March 2016 
(% year-on-year)
World share¹

RPK

ASK

PLF 
(%-pt)²         
PLF 
(level)³  
Total Market
100.0%
5.3%
5.9%
-0.5%      
79.6%
Africa
2.2%
9.7%
8.2%
1.0%
68.2%
Asia Pacific
31.5%
5.1%
6.7%
-1.2%
78.3%
Europe
26.7%
5.3%
4.6%
0.5%
80.2%
Latin America
5.4%
3.8%
2.8%
0.7%
78.3%
Middle East
9.4%
11.5%
13.4%
-1.3%
76.7%
North America
24.7%
3.0%
3.5%
 -0.4%
83.6%

International Passenger Markets

March international passenger demand rose 6.2% compared to March 2015, which was a decline compared to the 9.1% increase in February. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 6.9%, causing load factor to slip 0.5% percentage points to 78.5%.

· African airlines continued to enjoy strong demand, with traffic up 11.2% compared to March 2015. The turnaround after several difficult years coincides with expansion of long-haul networks by the region’s carriers. Capacity rose 9.7%, and load factor strengthened to 66.6%, up 0.9 percentage points.

The Bottom line
“In just under a month Dublin will become the focus of the global air transport industry, when the 72nd IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit takes place there, 1-3 June. Europe is the world’s largest international market in terms of traffic flown by its carriers. And aviation supports 12 million European jobs and 4.1% of the continent’s GDP. But aviation could do much more if governments would address the triple whammy of high taxes, overly-complex and punitive regulations, and inadequate and inefficient infrastructure. Making Europe an easier place to do business will help aviation deliver even greater benefits to the economy,” said Tyler.