2017: Global Air Pax Demand Strong, Load Factor Hits Record
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
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IATA says global passenger traffic results for 2017 show that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) for the year ended 31DEC rose 7.6% compared to 2016, well above the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%.
Full year 2017 capacity rose 6.3%, and load factor climbed 0.9 percentage point to a record calendar-year high of 81.4%. "2017 got off to a very strong start and largely stayed that way throughout the year, sustained by a broad-based pick-up in economic conditions," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.
"While the underlying economic outlook remains supportive in 2018, rising cost inputs, most notably fuel, suggest we are unlikely to see the same degree of demand stimulation from lower fares that occurred in the first part of 2017."
2017 international passenger traffic soared 7.9% compared to 2016. Capacity rose 6.4% and load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 80.6%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand, led by the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions.
Asia-Pacific carriers posted annual demand growth of 9.4%, compared to 2016, driven by robust regional economic expansion and an increase in route options for travelers. This was the first time since 1994 that Asia-Pacific led all the regions in annual growth rate. Capacity rose 7.9%, and load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 79.6%.
European carriers' international traffic climbed 8.2% in 2017 compared to the previous year, underpinned by buoyant economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 6.1% and load factor surged 1.6 percentage points to 84.4%, the highest for any region.
Middle East carriers' traffic increased 6.6% last year. The region was the only one to see a slowdown in annual growth compared to 2016, and the region's share of global traffic (9.5%) fell for the first time in 20 years. The market segment to/from North America was hit the hardest owing to factors including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices in the aircraft cabin as well as the proposed US travel bans affecting some countries in the region. Capacity climbed 6.4% and load factor rose 0.1 percentage point to 74.7%.
Closer to home, North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full year traffic rising 4.8% compared to 2016. Capacity climbed 4.5%, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 81.7%.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.