The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that global passenger traffic grew 7% in September compared to the same month in 2015. This was the strongest year-over-year increase in seven months.
Capacity climbed 6.6% and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage points to 81.1%. Growth in domestic traffic slightly outpaced growth in international traffic.
International Passenger Markets
International RPKs (revenue passenger kilometers) climbed 6.9% with airlines in all regions recording growth compared to 2015. Total capacity climbed 7.2%, causing load factor to slide 0.2 percentage points to 80.4%.
North American airlines’ demand rose 3.3%. While the upward trend in international traffic has eased of late, seasonally-adjusted passenger volumes have risen at an annualized rate of 6% since March. Capacity rose 4.2% and load factor fell 0.7 percentage points to 81.5%.
Latin American airlines’ September traffic rose 7.1% compared to the same month last year, aided by strong demand on international routes within the region. Capacity climbed just 2.4% and load factor surged 3.6 percentage points to 83.7%, second highest among regions.
European carriers saw September demand rise 5.2% over September 2015. Demand growth seems to be returning to normal after the disruption caused by terrorism and political instability.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 8.6% in September compared to the year-ago period, although there are still signs of Asian travelers being put off by terrorism in Europe.
Middle East carriers had an 11.5% rise in demand in September compared to a year ago, which was the largest increase among regions. Capacity rose faster, however, up 13.8%, and load factor dropped 1.5 percentage points to 73.9%.
African airlines posted an 8% rise in traffic which was matched by an equivalent rise in capacity. The strong demand increase largely reflected favorable year-ago comparisons, as economic conditions in much of the continent remain challenging.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic demand climbed 7.2% in September compared to September 2015, which was up from the 4.1% year-on-year growth recorded in August. India and China continued to experience double-digit annual traffic increases while elsewhere, results were decidedly mixed. All markets except Australia registered all-time highs in September load factors.
US domestic traffic resumed its healthy growth after a slowdown in July and August, rising 4.6% in September year-over-year.
Japan’s domestic traffic slid 0.7% in September against a backdrop of weak consumer spending.