The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic results for August showing a continuation of the strong growth in air travel demand for both domestic and international traffic. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 7.1 percent compared to the year-ago period. August capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.9 percent, and load factor rose 0.9 percentage points to a record 84.7 percent.
International Passenger Markets
August international passenger demand rose 7.1 percent compared to the same month last year, with airlines in all regions recording growth, led by Middle East carriers. Total capacity climbed 5.8 percent, pushing load factor up 1.0 percentage point to 85.2 percent.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ August traffic surged 7.7 percent compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 5.8 percent and load factor increased 1.5 percentage points to 82.5 percent. While emerging Asia has experienced notable declines in trade activity this year as well as slower than expected growth in China, neither factor appears to be impacting international air travel on the region’s carriers.
European carriers saw traffic increase by 5.7 percent. Economic recovery in the Eurozone is supporting demand for international travel. Capacity climbed 4.1 percent and load factor rose 1.3 percentage points to 88.3 percent, highest among the regions.
North American airlines’ traffic rose 4.5 percent year-over-year. Capacity climbed 3.7 percent and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points to 87.2 percent. Expectations for better economic performance are supporting demand for air travel in the region.
Middle East carriers’ August demand jumped 13.7 percent over the same month in 2014. Major economies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have experienced slowdowns in non-oil sectors but the growth rates remain robust. Capacity nearly kept pace at 13.5 percent and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 83.7 percent.
Latin American airlines experienced a 6.7 percent rise in traffic compared to August a year ago. Capacity exceeded demand at 7.1 percent and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 82.0 percent. Latin America was the only region to see a decline in load factors. Despite recessionary conditions in Brazil and Argentina, improving regional trade volumes provided a boost to business-related international travel.
African airlines’ traffic rose 3.6 percent in August year-to-year, which was the slowest growth among the regions but the second consecutive month of growth. Capacity increased 2.9 percent, with the result that load factor improved 0.5 percentage points to 75.2 percent. Adverse economic developments in parts of the continent including Nigeria, the largest economy, suggest that Africa will continue to experience weak growth at best.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic travel demand rose 7.1 percent in August compared to August 2014, with double-digit growth occurring in India, China and Russia while both Brazil and Japan saw declines compared to the year-ago period. Domestic capacity was up 6.1 percent, and load factor improved 0.8 percentage points to 83.8 percent.
India’s domestic demand surged 18.3 percent in August compared to a year ago, largely reflecting increases in service frequencies and economic strength.
Japan domestic traffic slipped 2.1 percent year-to-year. Although the economy remains fragile, the expectation is that a weak yen should support domestic demand over international trips.