The International Air Transport Association (IATA), announced global passenger traffic results for March 2019 showing that demand rose 3.1 per cent, compared to the same month a year ago, which was the slowest pace for any month in nine years.
This largely was owing to the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell nearly a month later than in 2018. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the underlying growth rate has been relatively steady since October 2018 at a 4.1 per cent annualised pace. Capacity for the month of March grew 4.2 per cent and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7 per cent.
African airlines’ demand increased 2.1 per cent compared to March 2018, down from a 2.5 per cent rise in February. Capacity climbed 1.1 per cent, and load factor strengthened 0.7 percentage point to 71.4 per cent. The upward traffic trend has softened since mid-2018 in line with falling business confidence in some of the region’s key economies.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said while traffic growth slowed considerably in March, “we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019”.
“Nevertheless, the economic backdrop has become somewhat less favorable, with the IMF having recently revised its GDP outlook downward for a fourth time in the past year,” de Juniac said.
March international passenger demand rose just 2.5 per cent compared to March 2018, which was down from 4.5 per cent year-over-year growth recorded in February and almost five percentage points below its five-year average pace. All regions showed growth with the exception of the Middle East. Total capacity climbed 4.0 per cent, and load factor fell 1.2 percentage points to 80.8 per cent.
European carriers saw March demand increase 4.7 per cent over March 2018, down from 7.5 per cent annual growth in February. The result partly reflects falling business confidence in the Eurozone and ongoing uncertainty about Brexit. March capacity rose 5.4 per cent and load factor slid 0.6 percentage point to 84.2 per cent, which still was the highest among regions.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic climbed 2.0 per cent in March, compared to the year-ago period, which was down from four per cent growth in February. However, results were stronger on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity increased 4.0 per cent, and load factor dropped 1.6 percentage points to 80.1 per cent.
“Despite March’s slowdown, the outlook for air travel remains solid. Global connectivity has never been better. Consumers can choose from more than 21,000 city pair combinations on more than 125,000 daily flights. And air fares continue to decline in real terms.