Stat: Demand for Air Travel Decelerates in March

After a number of very strong months the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports global passenger traffic results for March showed a moderation of the pace of growth in demand.

"The strong performance of advanced economies nevertheless is likely to support the continued growth of traffic in the coming months,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

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Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased 3.1 percent compared to March 2013. Although this represented a slowdown in comparison to the February year-over-year traffic increase of 5.6 percent, cumulative traffic growth for the first quarter of 2014 was 5.6 percent, which is a slight improvement over the 5.2 percent overall growth achieved in 2013, IATA says.

International passenger traffic rose 2.6 percent in March, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.4 percent increase in February. Capacity rose 5.5 percent and load factor fell 2.3 percentage points to 78.0 percent. Most regions experienced a slowdown in year-on-year growth rates.

North American airlines saw demand rise 0.6 percent in March compared to a year ago, a slowdown on the February growth rate of 2.0 percent, IATA said.

"Weakness in international air travel growth for North American carriers is likely in part due to the weather-related slowdown in the first quarter. With capacity up 4.7 percent, load factor fell 3.3 percentage points to 80 percent."

The latest data suggest that growth trends in business activity are positive and downward pressure on employment is easing, which could support stronger growth in the future, IATA said.

In terms of domestic traffic, IATA said growth was especially strong in the developing economies of Brazil, Japan and Russia, with all three recording double-digit increases in demand compared to the year-ago period.

Tyler noted that new research confirmed aviation’s important role in driving economic growth. Globally aviation supports over 58 million jobs and some $2.4 trillion in economic activity (equal to 3.4% of global GDP).

“Every day nearly 100,000 flights carry 8.6 million passengers and $17.5 billion of goods to their destination. This activity not only helps to drive economies forward, it enriches the world by bringing people together in a global community,” said Tyler.