Passenger demand grew again in May but trends have slowed, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Demand—measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs)—rose 4.5% year-on-year in May, a 0.1% increase from April.
However, the figure remains below the 20-year average growth rate of around 5.5%.
In this challenging environment, airlines are managing capacity carefully in order to optimize efficiency
IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said tension between major nations across the world is affecting the air transport industry negatively.
“Passenger demand growth has slowed compared to the past two years. This is in line with slumping global trade, rising trade tensions and weakening business confidence,” de Juniac said.
“In this challenging environment, airlines are managing capacity carefully in order to optimize efficiency.”
Passenger load factor broke last year’s record of 80.1%, rising 1.4 percentage points to 81.5%, while capacity—measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs)—grew by 2.7%.
International passenger demand rose 4.3% in May compared to a year previous, falling from 5.1% growth recorded in April. Capacity increased by 2.1%, with load factor rising 1.7 percentage points to 80.4% as Latin America led the way in regional markets.
See the breakdown by region below:
- European carriers’ May demand climbed 5.4% over May 2018, a deterioration from the 7.7% year-over-year growth recorded in April. Capacity rose 4.6% and load factor was up 0.7 percentage point to 84.2%.
- Asia-Pacific airlines saw their traffic rise 4.0% in May compared to the year-ago period, an improvement over the 2.9% increase in April. Capacity increased 3.0%, and load factor edged up 0.8 percentage point to 78.6%.
- Middle East carriers’ May demand growth decelerated to 0.8% compared to a year ago, from 3.3% annual growth recorded in April. May capacity plunged 6.1%, and load factor soared 5 percentage points to 73.0%.
- North American airlines’ traffic rose 4.8% in May compared to May 2018, a slowdown from 5.6% annual growth in April. Capacity climbed 2.7% and load factor strengthened 1.7 percentage points to 83.6%.
- Latin American airlines experienced a strong 6.7% increase in traffic in May compared to the same month last year, which was well up from 5.1% growth in April. Capacity climbed 4.0% and load factor jumped 2.1 percentage points to 84.0%, second highest among the regions.
- African airlines posted a 2.1% traffic rise in May compared to the year-ago period, which was up from just 1.1% growth in April. Capacity climbed 0.1% and load factor increased 1.3 percentage points to 67.0%.