Global air passenger demand rises in May

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released global passenger traffic results for May showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) rose 4.6%, compared to the same month in 2015, which was the same level achieved in April.

Capacity climbed 5.5%, which pushed the average load factor down 0.7 percentage points to 78.7%. Demand for domestic traffic rose 5.1%, outpacing international demand growth of 4.3%.

“After a very strong start to the year, demand growth is slipping back toward more historic levels. A combination of factors are likely behind this more moderated pace of demand growth. These include continuing terrorist activity and the fragile state of the global economy. Neither bode well for travel demand. And the shocks of Istanbul and the economic fallout of the Brexit vote make it difficult to see an early uptick,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Annual growth in international RPKs slowed for the third consecutive month, to 4.3%, from 5% recorded in April year-over-year. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 6.1%, causing load factor to slip 1.3 percentage points to 77.1%.

European carriers’ May demand climbed just 2.1% over May 2015, reflecting continuing fallout from the Brussels terror attack. Capacity rose 3.5% and load factor dipped 1.1 percentage points to 80.6%, which despite the decline still was the highest among regions.

Domestic demand rose 5.1% in May compared to May 2015, which was up from the 4% year-on-year growth recorded in April. Results were decidedly mixed, with Brazil, Russia and Japan all showing declines. Domestic capacity climbed 4.4%, and load factor rose 0.5 percentage points to 81.7%.

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