African airlines’ traffic climbed 9.9 percent in April since the same time last year. The continent’s airlines’ capacity also rose, to 11.1 percent, with the result that load factor slipped 0.7 percentage points to 66.3 percent, lowest among regions. Load factor measures the capacity utilisation of airlines and is generally used to assess how efficiently a transport provider fills seats and generates fare revenue. The continued turnaround of the carriers coincides with expansion of long-haul networks by the region’s airlines.
Meanwhile, April’s total international passenger demand rose 4.8 percent compared to April 2015, which is the slowest pace in two years. Airlines in all regions recorded growth, led by the Middle East region and total capacity climbed 5.6 percent, causing load factor to slip 0.6 percentage points to 77.8 percent.
Specifically, Asia-Pacific airlines’ April traffic increased 6.4 percent compared to the year-ago period. Slower economic growth in many of that region’s economies has been at least partly offset by an increase in direct airport connections that has helped to stimulate demand. Capacity for Asia-Pacific airlines rose 6.8 percent and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage points to 77.3 percent. European carriers saw demand rise just 1.8 percent in April, which was well down on the 6.0 percent growth recorded in March. This reflects the impact of the Brussels terror attacks, which closed the airport for nearly two weeks. Capacity climbed 2.4 percent and load factor slipped 0.5 percentage points to 80.2 percent, which still was the highest among the regions. In the Middle East carriers posted a 12.7 percent traffic increase in April, the only region to see a double-digit percentage increase in demand. Capacity growth of 14.8 percent outstripped this rise, however, which caused load factor to fall 1.4 percentage points to 75.6 percent.
In North America airlines’ traffic rose 1.1 percent which is the smallest increase among regions. Capacity climbed 0.9 percent, causing a 0.1 percentage point rise in load factor to 78.3 percent. While the recent downward slide in international traffic growth paused in April, traffic levels remain below July 2015 on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
And lastly in Latin America airlines experienced a 3.1 percent rise in April demand compared to the same month last year. Capacity increased by 2.9 percent and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 77.7 percent. The upward trend in international traffic growth that characterised 2015 has paused even as the downward trend in domestic traffic for the region’s carriers has accelerated.
During its annual general meeting in Dublin, Ireland last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for April showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers) rose by 4.6 percent, which is the slowest pace since January 2015. April capacity (available seat kilometers) increased by 4.9 percent, and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 79.1 percent.
The disruptive impact of the Brussels Airport attack weighed on the April figures. IATA estimates that, absent the impact of the attacks, demand growth would have been around 5 percent. “The disruptive impacts of the Brussels terror attacks likely will be short-lived. There are some longer-term clouds over the pace of demand growth. The stimulus from lower oil prices appears to be tapering off. And the global economic situation is subdued. Demand is still growing, but we may be shifting down a gear,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Demand for domestic travel climbed 4.1 percent in April compared to April 2015, while capacity increased 3.8 percent, causing load factor to rise 0.3 percentage points to 81.4 percent. All markets reported demand increases with the exception of Brazil, which showed a 12.1 percent decline, reflecting the country’s ongoing economic recession and political turmoil.