IATA: March passenger demand remains robust, buoyed by Lunar New Year

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that global passenger traffic for March 2015 rose 7.4% compared to March 2014. This was an improvement on February, when year-over-year growth was 6.4%.

March international passenger traffic rose 7.0% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity climbed 5.4% and load factor increased 1.2 percentage points to 78.9%. All regions recorded year-over increases in demand except for Africa.

IATA credits some of the increase in the March year-on-year comparison on the impact of the February Lunar New Year celebrations, which tend to boost leisure travel in the weeks before and after the holiday. In 2014, the holiday occurred at the end of January. IATA adds, however, that underlying traffic trends confirm demand remains robust. March capacity rose 5.6% and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage points to 80.0%. Domestic markets experienced stronger growth than international markets, but both performed well.

“We may, however, see a softening of demand in the second quarter. There are signs that regional trade activity in Asia-Pacific may be slowing and Eurozone economic weakness continues to disappoint,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets by region
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 4.3% in March compared to March 2014. Regional trade volumes have been improving, but the Brazilian economy continues to tread water. Capacity rose 5.5% and load factor slipped 0.9 percentage points to 77.4%.

North American airlines experienced just a 2.7% traffic rise in March over a year ago, reflecting the maturity of these travel markets. The US economy continues to lead developed economies in performance.

Asia-Pacific airlines recorded an 11.1% increase in demand compared to March 2014, strongest among the regions.

European carriers’ international traffic climbed 5.4% in March yoy. Capacity rose 3.6% and load factor climbed 1.4 percentage points to 80.8%, highest among the regions. While the Eurozone is reporting very weak economic expansion, outside the Eurozone, nations like Turkey continue to record strong growth.

Middle East carriers demand climbed 9.8% but capacity grew 11.9%, so that load factor fell 1.5 percentage points to 77.1%.

African airlines endured another month of declining demand, as traffic dropped 1.1% in March.