The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for October showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 5.8% compared to the same month last year. Capacity grew 6.3% and load factor slid 0.4 percentage points to 80.1%.
October’s performance was a slow-down on the 7.1% year-on-year growth rate recorded in September but still was broadly in line with 10-year averages. Domestic and international travel growth largely was in balance.
“Passenger demand growth in October was consistent with long-term trends but represented a deterioration compared to September. While the negative traffic impact from terror attacks and political instability in parts of the world has receded, the long downward trend in yield—which helped to stimulate travel–has leveled off. Furthermore, the recent OPEC agreement to restrict oil production suggests fuel prices have ended their slide,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
International Passenger Markets
October international passenger demand rose 5.9% compared to October 2015. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity rose faster, up 6.6%, causing load factor to slide 0.6% percentage points to 78.6%.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 7% in October compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 7.1% and load factor dipped 0.1 percentage point to 76.9%. The strong upward trend in seasonally-adjusted traffic has slowed in recent months, although it is too soon to determine whether this is an actual weakening or just a brief pause. On the other hand the Asia-to-Europe market, which is highly sensitive to shock events, is continuing to recover.
European carriers saw October demand climb 5.7% over October 2015. Capacity increased 6.2% and load factor slipped 0.4 percentage points to 83.2%. International demand for European carriers appears to be returning to normal after the disruption caused by terrorism and political instability earlier this year.
Middle East carriers experienced a 7% rise in demand in October, the slowest pace for the region in 18 months, although perhaps the timing of regional celebrations could have affected the results. Capacity increased 10%, however, with the result that load factor dropped 2.0 percentage points to 70.1%, its lowest level for the month of October since 2006.
North American airlines’ traffic climbed 2.4% in October compared to the year-ago period. While this was the lowest among the regions, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, passenger volumes have still risen at an annualized rate of around 5% since March. Capacity rose 4.9% and load factor dropped 1.9 percentage points to 80.1%.
Latin American airlines had a 7.1% increase in traffic in October, supported by robust demand for international traffic within the region. Capacity climbed at a much slower rate of 2.1%, causing load factor to surge 4 percentage points to 84.3%, highest among the regions.
African airlines’ traffic growth slowed to 5.8% year-on-year in October, from 9.1% in September. Economic conditions in parts of the continent remain challenging. Capacity rose 4.3%, and load factor strengthened to 68.8%, up 1 percentage point.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic demand climbed 5.6% in October compared to October 2015, which was matched by a similar increase in capacity. There was continued wide variation in individual country results, with India and China enjoying double-digit growth rates while other markets experienced much slower growth and Brazil remained in decline.
India’s domestic market soared 22.7% year-on-year in October, supported by significant growth in real consumer spending and increases in the number of airport pairs served.