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Growth in air traffic demand slows in Europe

The latest stats from IATA show passenger traffic growth in Europe and the rest of the world slowing down.

Passenger traffic growth both in Europe and in the world as a whole is slowing, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association.

IATA’s global passenger traffic results for September show demand – measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs – rising 5.5% compared to the same month in 2017. This was a slowdown from the 6.4% growth recorded in August.

Impacts from severe hurricane and typhoon activity shaved around 0.1-0.2 percentage points off expected growth, but even after accounting for these impacts, monthly traffic demand was below the 6.7% year-to-date pace.

Capacity climbed 5.8% and load factor slipped for the first time in eight months, down 0.3 percentage points from the same month in 2017, to 81.4%.

“While September’s traffic growth was in line with the long-term average, it represents a moderation compared to recent months,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“This is likely owing to the anticipated reduced demand boost from lower airfares due to rising airline cost pressures, particularly fuel. Heightened uncertainty about trade policies and mounting protectionist policies may also be having an impact.”

Slowing considerably
In Europe, carriers saw RPKs rise 5.2% in September, slightly less that August’s growth of 5.4%. The upward trend in demand has slowed considerably since early 2018, IATA warns.

Capacity climbed 4.9% and load factor edged up 0.2 percentage points to exactly 87%, the highest among the world’s regions.

North American airlines saw a 5% rise in demand in September – a rise from 3.7% growth seen in August. Capacity rose 5.4% and load factor fell 0.3 percentage point to 80.8%.

There, “strong momentum in the US economy is helping underpin a pick-up in international demand for airlines in the region,” IATA says.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 5.4%, considerably down from 7.4% in August, in part reflecting the impacts of typhoon activity in the region. Capacity rose 4.3%, load factor climbing 0.9 percentage points to 79.2%.

Latin American airlines’ demand surged 7%, strongest among the regions and well above the 4.4% growth recorded in August. Traffic there is staging a modest recovery from softness over the summer months that coincided with general strikes in Brazil, IATA says. Capacity climbed 9.8%, also the biggest increase among the regions, and load factor fell 2.1 percentage points to 80.3%.

Middle East carriers had a 1.8% rise in demand, a four-month low, while capacity rose 5.3% and load factor fell 2.4 percentage points to 72.3%. African airlines posted a 6% rise in demand, while capacity rose 4.9% and load factor edged up 0.8 percentage points to 74.6%.

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