March air passenger demand growth slows - IATA

Global demand for air travel increased in March, albeit at the slowest rate in nine years.

The year-on-year growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose to 3.1 percent in March 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but this was down from 5.3 percent in February and the slowest pace for any month in nine years.

IATA said this was largely was owing to the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell nearly a month later than in 2018. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the underlying growth rate has been relatively steady since October 2018 at a 4.1 percent.

Capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) for the month of March grew 4.2 percent and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7 percent.

“While traffic growth slowed considerably in March, we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive.

“Nevertheless, the economic backdrop has become somewhat less favourable, with the IMF having recently revised its GDP outlook downward for a fourth time in the past year.”

Internationally, passenger demand in March rose just 2.5 percent compared to March 2018, which was down from 4.5 percent year-over-year growth recorded in February and almost 5 percentage points below its five-year average pace.

All regions showed growth with the exception of the Middle East. Total capacity climbed 4.0 percent, and load factor fell 1.2 percentage points to 80.8 percent.

Domestic demand rose 4.1 percent in March, which was a deceleration from 6.2 percent growth recorded in February that was driven largely by developments in China and India. Domestic capacity climbed 4.5 percent, and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage point to 83.4 percent.

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