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Global air passenger traffic up 7.8pc in Jan

Geneva, March 5, 2014

International air passenger traffic recorded another solid month with a 7.8 per cent growth in January compared to last year led by the strong performance from Middle Eastern airlines, said a report.

The Middle East carriers’ demand soared 18.1 per cent in January, far and away the strongest growth for any region, stated the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its latest report.

Capacity of the Middle Eastern carriers climbed 15 per cent versus the same month in 2013, while the load factor surged 2.2 percentage points to 81.1 per cent, also the highest for any region, it said.

The Middle East carriers are benefitting from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel, supported by the performance of internationally trading industries and key economies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the report added.

According to IATA, the total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 8 per cent compared to January last year, an improvement over the December 2013 growth of 6.8 per cent and the full year 2013 growth of 5.2 per cent.

January capacity increased 6.7 per cent, pushing load factor up 0.9 percentage points to 78.1 per cent.

“2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions,” remarked Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

"The international passenger demand was up 7.8 per cent compared to the year-ago period with airlines in all regions recording growth and the strongest gains in the Middle East. Capacity rose 6.8 per cent and load factor climbed 0.7 percentage points to 78.3 per cent," he added.

Asia-Pacific carriers’ traffic rose 8 per cent compared to the year-ago period; however, this result is partly distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year in January, a month earlier than in 2013.

Comparisons with December traffic suggest a continuation of the slower growth seen toward the end of 2013, likely in line with signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy. Capacity climbed 7.5 per cent year-over-year and load factor rose 0.4 percentage points to 78.2 per cent.

European carriers saw demand climb 6.4 per cent in January versus January 2013. Modest economic improvements in the Eurozone since Q2 and rising consumer and business confidence have been providing a stronger demand base for international air travel.

Additionally, the services sector has been signaling expansion and Eurozone job losses have stabilized. Capacity rose 5.9 per cent and load factor climbed 0.4 percentage points to 77.2 per cent, said the IATA in its report.

North American airlines experienced a 3.5 per cent rise in traffic compared to January a year ago, in line with recent performance. Rising consumer spending and employment growth are expected to support continued demand growth in the coming months.

Capacity rose 2.5 per cent pushing load factor up 0.8 percentage points to 80.4 per cent, third highest among regions.

On the Latin American market, IATA said the airlines’traffic rose 4.4 per cent in January compared to last year. This was well below the 8.1 per cent increase achieved for full year 2013.

Despite the deceleration, the outlook for continued demand growth remains broadly positive, with continued robust performance of economies such as Colombia, Peru and Chile, and the upcoming demand to be generated by the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Capacity rose 2 per cent and load factor jumped 1.8 percentage points to 80.8 per cent, it added.

African airlines’ traffic climbed 2.7 per cent compared to January 2013, the slowest rate of growth for any region, while capacity rose 4.0 per cent, resulting in a 0.9 percentage point drop in load factor to 68.9 per cent, the lowest load factor for any region. Results could partly reflect adverse developments in some parts of the continent, includingthe slowdown of the South African economy as well as some moderation in trade volumes.

Domestic travel demand rose 8.2 per cent in January compared to a year-ago, with several markets reporting double-digit growth. Total domestic capacity was up 6.5 per cent, and load factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 77.7 per cent, said the global aviation body in its report.

Domestic traffic expanded at double-digit rates compared to the previous January in China, Japan and Russia.

China’s domestic demand soared 20.1 per cent, compared to the year-ago period, easily the highest for any market. The timing of the LunarNew Year positively impacted the strong growth, but comparisons to December traffic results confirm solid expansion (1.8 per cent), indicating continued strength in domestic demand. Domestic capacity climbed 16.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period with the result that load factor jumped 2.1 percentage points to 79.4 per cent.

Brazil’s airlines posted the highest load factors of 81.5 per cent. Domestic demand grew by 7.9 per cent in January compared to the year-ago period, considerably above the 5.3 per cent expansion in capacity, said the report.

According to IATA, the pace of growth in January showed the greatest increase of any domestic market over full-year 2013 growth (which stood at just 0.8 per cent).

Brazil’s economy is in a delicate situation but is expected to receive a boost from the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which will rely heavily on air transport both for inbound visitors and to connect the far-flung match venues, it stated.

"The second century of commercial aviation has begun on a positive note, with air traffic demand rising in line with generally positive economic indicators," stated Tyler.
 
"While this is in line with an improved overall outlook for 2014, aviation remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Rising geopolitical tensions around the worldhave the potential to cast shadows on this optimistic outlook," he added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Middle East | Air passenger |

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