IATA reports that global passenger traffic data for April 2017 saw demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rise by 10.7% compared to April 2016 -- the fastest pace in six years.
April capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 7.1%, and load factor climbed 2.7 percentage points to 82.0% -- a record for the month.
The airline organization says the strong performance is supported by a pick-up in global economic activity and lower airfares. After adjusting for inflation, the price of air travel in the first quarter was around 10% lower than in the year-ago period. IATA estimates that falling airfares accounted for around half the demand growth in April.
However, the cabin ban on the carriage of large portable electronic devices (PEDs) from 10 Middle Eastern and African airports to the US appears to have weighed down Middle East-North America passenger traffic.
"April showed us that demand for air travel remains at very strong levels. Nevertheless, there are indications that passengers are avoiding routes where the large PED ban is in place,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers expanding the ban, the need to find alternative measures to keep flying secure is critical. If the ban were extended to Europe-to-US flights, for example, we estimate a $1.4 billion hit on productivity. And an IATA-commissioned survey of business travellers indicated that 15% would seek to reduce their travel in the face of a ban."