The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for June showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose by 7.8% compared to the year-ago period. This was in line with the 7.7% growth recorded in May.
All regions reported growth. June capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.5%, and load factor rose 1.0 percentage point to 81.9%.
For the first six months of 2017, the industry experienced a 12-year high in traffic growth (7.9%) and a record first half load factor of 80.7%.
“A brighter economic picture and lower airfares are keeping demand for travel strong. But as costs rise, this stimulus of lower fares is likely to fade. And uncertainties such as Brexit need to be watched carefully. Nonetheless, we still expect 2017 to see above-trend growth,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
¹% of industry RPKs in 2016 ²Year-on-year change in load factor ³Load factor level
International Passenger Markets
June international passenger demand rose 7.5% compared to June 2016. All regions recorded growth, led by airlines in Africa. Capacity climbed 6.2%, and load factor climbed 1.0 percentage point to 80.6%.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ June traffic jumped 9.1% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 7.9% and load factor edged up 0.9 percentage points to 79.3%.The overall upward trend in seasonally-adjusted traffic remains strong, although volumes have slipped in recent months. Traffic on Asia-Europe routes continues to trend upwards following terrorism related disruptions in early 2016. However, solid demand growth on international routes within Asia has paused.
European carriers saw traffic rise 8.8% in June compared to June 2016, which was up from a 7.5% year-over-year increase recorded in May. Capacity climbed 6.5% and load factor rose 1.8% percentage points to 85.9%, highest among the regions. The stronger growth reflects both a favorable comparison with the year-ago period, as well as increased momentum in the regional economic backdrop.
Middle Eastern carriers posted a 2.5% traffic increase in June, which was a slowdown from the already subdued 3.7% growth seen in May. Capacity rose 3.1%, and load factor slipped down 0.4 percentage points to 68.9%. While most markets have seen demand slowing, it is most visible on the Middle East-North America market, which has been affected by a combination of factors including the (recently-lifted) ban on personal electronic devices, as well as a wider negative stimulation from the travel ban that has now been implemented for certain countries. However, passenger traffic between the Middle East and North America was already slowing in early 2017, in line with a moderation in the pace of growth of the largest carriers in the region.
North American airlines’ demand rose 4.4% compared to June a year ago. Capacity climbed 4.1%, with load factor inching up 0.3 percentage points to 84.5%. The comparatively robust economic backdrop in North America is expected to continue to support outbound passenger demand. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that inbound tourism is being deterred by the additional security measures in place for travel to the US.
Latin American airlines experienced a 9.7% rise in demand compared to the same month last year supported by strong travel within the region, while travel to North America is flat to down slightly. Capacity increased by 9.1% and load factor rose 0.4 percentage points to 82.1%.
African airlines’ traffic soared 9.9% in June. Capacity rose 7.1%, and load factor jumped 1.7 percentage points to 64.3%, although this still was the lowest among regions. Conditions in the region’s two largest economies have continued to diverge, with business confidence in Nigeria rising sharply in recent months, while South Africa’s economy fell into recession in the first quarter.