Biggest air traffic surge in six years

Especially strong growth in Europe, IATA reports
Global passenger traffic data for April analysed by the International Air Transport Association show demand rising 10.7% compared to the same month last year – the fastest pace in six years.
IATA measures demand in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), while capacity (available seat kilometres, ASK) increased by 7.1% and load factor climbed 2.7 percentage points to 82%, a record for the month of April.
The strong performance is supported by a pick-up in global economic activity and lower airfares, IATA explains. After adjusting for inflation, the price of air travel in the first quarter was 10% lower than in the year-ago period.
IATA estimates that falling fares have accounted for around half the demand growth. But the cabin ban on the carriage of large portable electronic devices (PEDs) from ten Middle Eastern and African airports to the US appears to have weighed down Middle East-North America passenger traffic.
“April showed us that demand for air travel remains at very strong levels. Nevertheless there are indications that passengers are avoiding routes where the large PED ban is in place,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“As the US Department of Homeland Security considers expanding the ban, the need to find alternative measures to keep flying secure is critical. If the ban were extended to Europe-to-US flights, for example, we estimate a $1.4 billion hit on productivity. And an IATA-commissioned survey of business travellers indicated that 15% would seek to reduce their travel in the face of a ban.”
International passenger demand in April rose 12.5%, with all regions around the world recording double-digit traffic increases for the first time in 12 years. Demand for domestic travel climbed 7.7%.
European carriers saw demand rise by as much as 14.4%, supported by growing momentum in the region’s economy. Comparisons with the year-ago period are distorted partly by the disruption following the series of terrorist attacks last year.
That said, the April 2017 results represent the fastest year-on-year growth since April 2011, when comparisons were heavily impacted by the Icelandic ash cloud event in 2010. Excluding this one-off event, April’s growth rate was the fastest in nearly 13 years.
Capacity climbed 7.9% and load factor soared 4.9 percentage points to 85.4%, the highest among the world’s regions.
The highest growth was seen in Africa, with a 17.2% traffic increase, the fastest pace there in more than five years. This follows a recovery in demand on the key market to Europe. Conditions in the continent’s two largest economies are diverging, however, with business confidence rising in Nigeria but uncertain in South Africa.
TTG Nordic