Middle East carriers registered the slowest year-over-year traffic growth in January, recording a 0.5 per cent rise in demand compared to January 2017 – the slowest pace since September 2008.
According to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), capacity rose 4.6 per cent and load factor fell 3.1 percentage points to 76.8 per cent.
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The market to/from North America has been especially hard hit owing to factors including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices as well as the proposed travel bans to the US from some countries in the region.
Latin America airlines led the traffic growth across all regions in January, with a 7.3 per cent year-over-year increase, followed by European and carriers (up 6 per cent) African airlines (up 4.9 per cent), Asia-Pacific airlines (4.6 per cent), North American airlines (3.5 per cent) and lastly Middle East carriers.
International passenger demand growth slowed to 4.4 per cent in January, from 6.1 per cent in December. Total capacity climbed 5.3 per cent and load factor dipped 0.7 percentage point to 79.6 per cent.
Domestic travel demand climbed 5.1 per cent in January, down from 7 per cent growth recorded in December. The slowdown is entirely attributable to the later Lunar New Year holiday period in 2018. All markets showed growth, led by India, which experienced its 41st consecutive month of double-digit traffic increases. Domestic capacity increased 5.3 per cent and load factor slid 0.2 percentage point to 79.8 per cent.
The global passenger traffic results for January showed that traffic/total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 4.6 per cent compared to January 2017. This was the slowest year-over-year increase in nearly four years, but results were affected by temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018 as well as less favourable comparisons with the strong upward trend in traffic seen in late 2016-early 2017.
Iata estimates the impact of the later Lunar New Year-related travel period holiday represented around two-fifths of the slowdown in year-over-year growth for the month. January capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) rose 5.3 per cent, and load factor slipped half a percentage point to 79.6 per cent.
“Despite the slower start, economic momentum is supporting rising passenger demand in 2018. That said, concerns over a possible trade war involving the US could have a serious dampening effect on global market confidence, spilling over into demand for air travel,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.
“Aviation is the business of freedom. It liberates us from the constraints of geography, distance and time, enabling us to lead better lives; and it makes the world a better place. For the business of freedom to grow the benefits it generates, we need borders that are open to trade and travel, and infrastructure to support the demand for connectivity. Governments have the main role to play in these areas by preserving the benefits of global commerce and ensuring adequate airport and airspace capacity to cope with an expected doubling of demand by 2036,” said de Juniac. – TradeArabia News Service