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Healthy Passenger Demand Continued in 2018, Says IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released global passenger traffic results for 2018 showing that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose by a healthy 6.5 percent compared to full-year 2017.

Airlines transported in 2018 a total of 4.3 billion passengers.

IATA logoAccording to IATA, although the 2018 results represented a slowdown compared to the 2017 annual growth of 8 percent, it was another year of “above-trend growth”. Full year 2018 capacity climbed 6.1 percent, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to a record 81.9 percent, exceeding the previous high set in 2017.

December RPKs rose 5.3 percent against the same month in 2017, the slowest year-over-year pace since January 2018 and a continuation of the trend that saw demand growth decelerate to an annualized rate of 5 percent over the course of the 2018 second half compared to a 9 percent pace in the first half.

“2018 was another year of strong passenger demand, as aviation continued to support the global economy. We expect similar, if somewhat moderating performance in 2019,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said.

“Nevertheless, slowing growth in the second half of 2018, coupled with concerns over issues including Brexit and US-China trade tensions, are creating some uncertainty to this positive outlook,” said de Juniac.

International passenger markets

IATA’s data showed that international passenger traffic in 2018 climbed 6.3 percent compared to 2017, down from 8.6 percent annual growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.7 percent and load factor climbed by 0.4 percentage point to 81.2 percent.

All regions recorded year-over-year increases in traffic, led by Asia-Pacific.

European carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.6 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, which was down from 9.4 percent growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.9 percent and load factor increased 0.6 percentage point to 85 percent, which was the highest for any region.

“On a seasonally-adjusted basis, traffic growth has softened a bit in recent months, likely owing, in part, to uncertainty over the economic backdrop and Brexit,” IATA said.

IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of global air traffic.

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