The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger statistics for January 2015, which indicate a slower start this year compared to 2015.
Although January traffic is still on the rise, it has not maintained the rate of growth attained in 2014, though IATA have said that results were likely affected by the timing of the Lunar New Year in Asia, which occurred one month later this year compared to 2014.
January capacity rose 5.2 percent, though load factor slipped 0.5 percent to 77.7 percent. Although domestic markets drove growth towards the end of 2014, international traffic was stronger in January 2015.
“January traffic did not maintain the rate of growth attained in 2014; nevertheless, we are seeing healthy albeit slightly slower growth in the demand for air services. While January was a relatively positive start for the year, we cannot look ahead without seeing some significant risk factors in the macro-economic and political environment,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Global air travel was up 4.6% in January compared to a year ago, a slower start to the year when compared to the strong 5.9% expansion in 2014 overall.
The IATA statistics showed that Middle Eastern carriers had the strongest year-over-year traffic growth in January with and 11.4 percent increase, with capacity also rising by 13.3 percent. African airlines had the weakest start to the year, with traffic slipping 0.7 percent compared to 2014. This could be due to the negative economic developments in parts of the continent, including Nigeria which is suffering from the collapse in oil prices. North American airlines experienced slower growth of 2.7% in international RPKs in January year-on-year, compared to 3.1% in 2014 overall.
European carriers saw one of the largest increases in terms of international traffic compared to the year-ago period. Traffic climbed 5 percent compared to 2014, and capacity rose by 4.6 percent. Air travel growth in Europe is reflected in the strong figures from low-cost carriers, as well as Turkish airlines which are helping to overcome some of the impact on travel of the ongoing economic weakness in the region.
Domestic air travel rose 3.2 percent in January year-on-year, which was below the full year 2014 result of 5.4 percent. Capacity overall rose 3.9 percent, and load factor was 77.3 percent, down 0.5 percent compared to the previous year, according to IATA.
Chinese domestic air travel rose by 2.1 percent in January compared to the previous year, again partly owing to the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell a month later in comparison to 2014. Brazil’s domestic traffic climbed 5.6 percent, and India saw the greatest increase, with a 17.9 percent rise in domestic air travel in comparison to 2014.
The decline in oil prices over recent months should help support economic activity and passenger demand into 2015.
“Air travel drives business. The economic impact of travel during the Lunar New Year period is a tremendous example of how powerful a force travel can be. This is our message to governments: a successful air transport industry strengthens economies with broad economic and social benefits. The industry is committed to sustainable growth. But it is critical that governments do their part in ensuring cost-efficient infrastructure to accommodate demand and not constraining growth with excessive taxation or onerous regulation,” added Mr Tyler.