African airlines continued steady growth
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic
results for February showing a second month of strong demand growth to begin 2017.
Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 4.8%, compared to the same month last
year. Although this was below growth achieved in January, year-to-year comparisons are
distorted because February 2016 was a leap month. Adjusting for the one fewer day this
year, the underlying growth rate was estimated at 8.6%, just under January’s increase
of 8.9%. Monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 2.7%, and
load factor rose 1.6 percentage points to 79.5%, which was the highest ever recorded
“The strong demand momentum from January has continued, supported by lower fares and
a healthier economic backdrop. Although we remain concerned over the impact of any
travel restrictions or closing of borders, we have not seen the attempted US ban on
travel from six countries translate into an identifiable traffic trend. Overall travel
demand continues to grow at a robust rate,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director
General and CEO.
IATA estimates that allowing for inflation, the price of air travel has fallen by more
than 10% in real terms over the past year, accounting for more than half the growth
in RPKs in early 2017.
February international passenger demand rose 5.8% compared to February 2016, which was
down compared to the 9.1% yearly increase recorded in January. Adjusting for the leap
year, however, growth actually accelerated slightly compared to January. Total capacity
climbed 3.4%, and load factor rose 1.8 percentage points to 78.4%.
African airlines continued their recovery, with February traffic up 7.1% compared to
a year ago. This mainly reflects the upturn on the key route to/from Europe, offsetting
struggles in the region’s biggest economies of Nigeria and South Africa. Capacity rose
2.3%, and load factor jumped 2.9 percentage points to 66.0%.
European carriers saw February demand increase by 6.5% compared to a year ago. Traffic
has resumed its growth after the terrorist disruptions in 2016, supported in part by
momentum in the regional economy. Capacity climbed 3.4% and load factor surged 2.4
percentage points to 81.1%.
Asia-Pacific airlines' February traffic rose 5.2% compared to the year-ago period,
maintaining the strong momentum of the past few months. Intra-Asia traffic remains robust
and conditions on the Asia-Europe route have continued to recover from last year’s
terrorism-related slowdown. Capacity increased 2.9% and load factor climbed 1.7 p
ercentage points to 79.8%.
North American airlines’ traffic climbed 0.3%, which was the slowest among the regions.
However, adjusting for the leap year, growth was estimated at 3.4%. Traffic to/ from
Asia continues to move upward but transatlantic demand has trended sideways since
mid-2016. Capacity inched up 0.1% and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage point to
75.9%. Latin American airlines saw February traffic rise 5.9% compared to February 2016.
Capacity increased by 2.8%, boosting load factor 2.3 percentage points to 81.4%, highest
among the regions. Robust international demand within South America is offsetting weaker
traffic to North America, which has trended downward since mid-2015 and fell by 3.4% in
January, the most recent month for which route-specific results are available.