Air travel booms in China, India

China and India are both experiencing a sharp rise in domestic air passenger traffic, as demand soars in the world’s two most populous countries.

According to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), China saw a 15.4% year-on-year jump in domestic passenger demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPK) in November 2014, while India’s monthly traffic climbed 14.2%.

Chinese domestic passenger traffic has increased 10.7% in 2014
Chinese domestic passenger traffic has increased 10.7% in 2014 (photo by Vincent St. Thomas)

By way of comparison, the other two ‘BRIC’ nations, Brazil and Russia, experienced growth rates of 7.7% and 8.0% respectively, while demand in the US – the world’s biggest domestic market – increased 3.6%.

Referring to China’s growth, IATA noted that “two-thirds of the total increase in [global] domestic RPKs over the last few months is attributable to gains in the Chinese domestic market”.

“This is occurring in spite of ongoing signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy and industrial activity, although consumer surveys and retail sales data remain robust,” it added.

IATA’s director-general & CEO, Tony Tyler, noted however, that the success of China and India wasn’t having a knock-on effect to the rest of Asia.

“November demand was healthy, but the overall picture is mixed,” said Tyler. “Strong traffic performance within China and India has not carried over into international demand for Asia Pacific carriers. And while lower oil prices should be positive for economic activity, softening business confidence is having a dampening effect on international travel,” he added.

International traffic on Asia Pacific carriers increased 4.9% in November, but this failed to keep pace with a 5.6% expansion of seat capacity, causing average cabin load factors to fall to 74.6%. By contrast, domestic load factors in China and India stood at 79.7% and 80.3% respectively.

For the first 11 months of the year, Chinese domestic air traffic has now increased 10.7% year-on-year, while India has grown 7.8%.

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