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Europe air passenger demand sharply down

The factors behind the trend are a slowing of economic growth and fewer discounts due to higher costs.

Passenger demand growth worldwide eased off in April, with a slowing of economic growth and less fare discounting due to higher costs seen as the main factors.

The International Air Transport Association said that global demand measured by revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose by 6.2% compared to April 2017. This was down from a 12-month high of 9.7% in March.

April capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) rose 5.9% and load factor climbed 0.2 percentage points to 82.3%, a record for the month of April.

“Demand for air transport continues to be above the long-term trend,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general and chief executive. “However, increases in airline cost inputs, most notably fuel prices, means that we are unlikely to see increased stimulation from lower fares in 2018, compared to previous years.”

Falls in Europe and US
Excluding countries’ domestic traffic, international passenger demand rose 4.8% during the month, year-on-year. All regions recorded increases, but all were behind the pace of growth reported in March.

European airlines’ traffic increased 3.4%, considerably down from the 9.8% growth seen in March, although demand picked up in April in seasonally adjusted terms. Capacity rose 4% and load factor dipped 0.5 percentage points to 84.6% – still highest among the regions.

Asia Pacific carriers posted an 8.5% traffic rise, strongest among the regions. Traffic is trending upwards at an annualised rate of 10%, supported by regional economic expansion and growth in the number of flight options, which translates into time savings for passengers, IATA says. Capacity rose 7.6% and load factor stood at 81%.

Middle East carriers saw demand rise 4.1%, with capacity climbing 3.2% and load factor being 77.2%. There, the upward trend in traffic has strengthened since the start of the year, aided by healthy growth on key routes between Asia and Europe.

North American airlines posted a 0.9% demand increase – sharply down compared to the 9.5% growth experienced in March. Comparisons to a year ago are distorted by a huge pick-up in traffic seen in April 2017, and a bounce back is expected in May. Capacity climbed 2.4%, with load factor at 80.7%.

Latin American airlines saw a 6.4% rise in demand, with capacity increasing 7.5% and load factor slipping to 81.4%. African airlines saw a 5.1% traffic rise, with capacity up 4.6% and load factor edged up to 72.8%.

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