By Wole Oyebade
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), has announced healthy but moderating global passenger traffic results for November 2018.
African airlines experienced a 5.7 per cent rise in demand compared to November 2017, down from 6.4 per cent in October but higher than the five-year average of 5.8 per cent.
Growth, according to IATA, is occurring despite challenges in the continent’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa. Capacity rose 3.9 per cent and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 68.9 per cent.
Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.2 per cent compared to November 2017, a slight deceleration from 6.3 per cent growth in October.
Capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.8 per cent over the year-ago period, and load factor dipped 0.4 percentage point to 80.0 per cent. It was only the third time in two years that load factor fell on a year-to-year basis.
IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said traffic remains solid, but there were clear signs that growth is moderating in line with the slowing global economy.
“We still expect six per cent demand growth this year. But trade tensions, protective tariffs and Brexit are all uncertainties that overhang the industry,” de Juniac said.
November international passenger demand rose 6.6 per cent compared to the year earlier period, up from 6.2 per cent in October.
All regions showed growth, led by carriers in Europe. Total capacity climbed 6.7 per cent and load factor dipped 0.1 percentage point to 78.4 per cent.
European carriers saw demand increase by 9.0 per cent in November 2018, which was a nine-month high.
Given the mixed signs on the economic backdrop in the region it is unclear whether this pace of growth can be sustained.
Capacity climbed 9.1 per cent and load factor slipped 0.1 percentage point to 82.1 per cent, the highest load factor among the regions.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ November traffic climbed 6.0 per cent compared to the year-ago period, up from 5.7 per cent growth in October.
Capacity also rose 6.0 per cent and load factor was flat at 79.1 per cent. Growth is underpinned by rising living standards and continuing expansion of options for travelers.
Middle East carriers had a 2.8 per cent demand increase, which was the lowest among the regions for a third consecutive month. Capacity rose 5.6 per cent and load factor slipped 1.9 percentage points to 69.0 per cent.
North American airlines’ traffic climbed 6.1 per cent, in November, up from 5.7 per cent in October and well ahead of the five-year average rate of 4.0 per cent.
Capacity rose 3.8 per cent and load factor edged up 1.7 percentage points to 80.6 per cent. Demand is supported by comparatively strong momentum in the U.S. economy.
Latin American airlines’ November traffic climbed 5.8 per cent compared to November 2017, which was an increase from 5.2 per cent growth recorded in October.
Despite the increase, growth has slowed on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity rose 6.6 per cent and load factor slipped 0.6 percentage point to 80.6 per cent.