2018, another year of healthy growth in the air passenger sector


According to the results of global passenger traffic for 2018 of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passengers per kilometer transported (RPK, for its acronym in English) grew by 6.5% compared to 2017, a healthy figure that again overcame the trend despite not exceeding 8.0% the previous year. Capacity increased by 6.1% and pushed the load factor by 0.3 percentage points to a new maximum of 81.9%, surpassing the record level of 2017.

In December, RPKs grew 5.3% year-on-year, the worst rate since January 2018. The annual growth rate slowed by 5% in the second half of 2018, compared to 9% in the first half.

“Aviation continues to support the global economy, as shown by the strong growth in demand for air passengers in 2018. Although perhaps a little more moderate, our forecast is equally optimistic for 2019, although the slowdown of the second half of 2018 by the Brexit and the commercial tensions between EE. UU and China adds some uncertainty about the forecast for this year, “said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of IATA.

International air passenger traffic increased by 6.3% in 2018 compared to 2017. The figure for 2018 was below the annual 8.6% for the previous year. The capacity increased by 5.7% and the load factor climbed 0.4 percentage points to 81.2%. All regions recorded year-on-year growth, led by Asia-Pacific. However, only North America and Africa recorded the best growth data in 2018 compared to the previous year.

• In Asia-Pacific, RPKs grew by 7.3% year-on-year. The strong economic growth and the expansion of destinations boosted passenger demand. Although it did not exceed 10.5% year-to-year in 2017, the region once again led the growth for the second consecutive year. Capacity grew 6.4% and the load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 80.6%.
• In Europe, international RPKs increased by 6.6% year-on-year, a decrease compared to 9.4% in the previous year. The capacity increased by 5.9% and the occupation factor led the ranking at 85.0% with an escalation of 0.6 percentage points. After the seasonal adjustment, traffic has softened in recent months, partly due to economic uncertainty and Brexit.

• In the Middle East, international passenger traffic grew moderately for the second year in a row: 4.2% in 2018, compared to 6.9% in the previous year. Capacity climbed 5.2% and the load factor contracted 0.7 percentage points to 74.7%. The sector has been affected by the impact of political measures and geopolitical tensions, such as restrictions on air travel and a temporary ban on the transport of large electronic devices in the cabin. In December, traffic fell by 0.1%, although this drop may be due to the volatility of the data.

• North American airlines experienced the highest growth since 2011, with a rise of 5.0% compared to 4.7% in 2017. However, in this region too, the growth of demand decreased significantly in the last two quarters, in a environment of economic uncertainty in the US UU and the commercial tensions with China. Capacity increased by 3.7% and the load factor rose 1.0 percentage points to 82.6%, the second highest with respect to the other regions.

• In Latin America, international passenger traffic grew by 6.9% in 2018, a decrease compared to 8.8% of annual growth in 2017. Capacity increased by 7.7% and occupancy factor shrank by 0.6 percentage points , up to 81.8%. Demand was affected by strikes in Brazil in the middle of the year, as well as political and economic developments in other economies in the region.

• In Africa, international passenger demand grew by 6.5% compared to 6.0% annual growth in 2017. The mixed scenario in the two largest economies in the region, Nigeria and South Africa, did not prevent the strong performance of the sector . Capacity climbed 4.4% and the load factor climbed 1.4 percentage points to 71.0%.