Global airline industry makes August gains

GENEVA, 3 October 2018: Global passenger traffic data for August  showed that demand measured in total revenue passenger kilometres climbed 6.4% compared to a year-ago, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported Tuesday.

The increase in RPKs was slightly above the 6.1% annual increase for July.

August capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 5.5%, and load factor climbed 0.7% percentage point to 85.3%, which was the highest for any month since at least 1990.

“The industry experienced continued strong traffic growth in August, putting the cap on a very good peak travel season. The all-time record load factor reflects that airlines are maximising the efficiency of their assets at a time of rising fuel prices and other costs that are limiting the opportunities for low fare stimulation,” said IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

August 2018
(% year-on-year) 
World share¹ RPK ASK PLF
Total Market 100.0% 6.4% 5.5% 0.7% 85.3%
Africa 2.2% 3.4% 0.6% 2.1% 77.9%
Asia Pacific 33.7% 9.5% 7.3% 1.7% 84.3%
Europe 26.6% 5.4% 4.6% 0.6% 88.7%
Latin America 5.2% 4.4% 5.8% -1.1% 80.5%
Middle East 9.5% 5.0% 5.8% -0.6% 80.4%
North America 23.0% 4.6% 4.2% 0.3% 86.5%

¹% of industry RPKs in 2017   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level

International passenger markets

August international passenger demand rose 5.6% compared to August 2017, in line with 5.5% year-over-year growth achieved in July.

All regions recorded increases, led by airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. Capacity climbed 5.1%, and load factor edged up 0.4 percentage point to 85%.

Regional variations

Asia-Pacific airlines’ August traffic increased 7.5% compared to the year-ago period, which was an acceleration compared to a 7.2% rise in July.
Capacity rose 6.1% and load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 82.6%. The upward trend in passenger traffic remains very strong, supported by structural changes, including ongoing rises in living standards in the region, as well as more route options for passengers that translate into time savings and ultimately stimulate demand.

European carriers saw August demand climb 5.1% year-to-year, which was also an increase from the 4.5% growth recorded in July. However, in seasonally-adjusted terms, growth has tracked sideways since late spring.
Capacity rose 4.5%, and load factor climbed 0.5 percentage point to 88.9%, which was the highest among regions. European demand is being affected by mixed signs on the economy as well as possible disruptions from air traffic control strikes.

Middle Eastern carriers posted a 5.4% traffic increase in August, which was a slowdown from 6.2% in July. Passenger volumes have trended upwards at an 8% annualized rate since the start of the year. Capacity increased 6.3%, with load factor slipping 0.7 percentage point to 80.7%.

North American airlines’ international demand rose 3.7% compared to August a year ago. While this was a slowdown from 4.1% growth recorded in July, this largely reflected developments a year ago rather than any change in the current healthy trend. Capacity rose 3.3%, and load factor grew by 0.4 percentage point to 87.2%.

Latin American airlines experienced a 4.8% demand increase in August compared to the same month last year, up from 3.5% annual growth in July. Capacity increased by 6.5% and load factor slid 1.3 percentage points to 81.4%. Year-to-year comparisons are distorted by the hurricane-related disruptions of a year ago, and traffic has largely tracked sideways since April in seasonally adjusted terms.

African airlines’ traffic climbed 6.8% in August. While this was a slowdown from the 7.4% growth recorded in July the bigger picture is that demand remains strong, despite an increasingly challenging environment in the continent’s largest economies.
South Africa slipped back into recession in the second quarter and business confidence in Nigeria has moderated in recent months. Capacity rose 3.8%, and load factor surged 2.2 percentage points to 78.2%.