Passenger traffic demand rose 4.6 per cent in January compared to the same month in 2017 but the slowest for four years, according to the latest figures published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The association said traffic growth measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) was 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 kilometers or ASKs) rose 5.3 per cent, and the passenger load factor (PLF) slipped half a percentage point to 79.6 per cent.
IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac said: “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.”
Regionally in January, RPK in Africa was up 2.8 per cent, in Asia Pacific up 5.4 per cent, Europe 6.4 per cent, Latin America five per cent, Middle East 0.8 per cent and North America 3.5 per cent.
ASK in Africa was up 2.4 per cent, in Asia Pacific 6.6 per cent, Europe 5.1 per cent, Latin America five per cent, Middle East 4.5 per cent and North America 4.2 per cent.
The PLF in Africa was 70.3 per cent, 80.6 per cent in Asia Pacific, Europe 80 per cent, Latin America 83.2 per cent, Middle East 76.6 per cent and North America 79.3 per cent.