Global passenger traffic demand in January rose 7.1% compared to that month last year.

Happy family with luggage

Measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), January this year showed stronger growth than 2015, which posted a final RPK increase of 6.5%.

In international markets in January, passenger traffic rose 7.3% compared to January 2015 and for the domestic sector, 6.8%. January saw the number of seats available rise 5.6% and with the increase in demand, the capacity was 78.8%, a load factor that is the highest ever recorded for the first month of the year. The regions with the fastest total market RPK growth were the Middle East at 10.5% and Asia-Pacific at 10.4%.

“January maintained the strong traffic growth trend seen in 2015, showing the resilience of demand for connectivity despite recent turmoil in equity markets,” said IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Tyler. “The record load factor is a result of strong demand for our product and airlines making the most productive use of their assets. Underlying conditions point to another strong year for passenger traffic, with the latest decline in oil prices likely providing additional stimulus for air travel growth.”

In the international markets, for January RPK growth, the winning regions were the Middle East and Asia-Pacific again, at 10.9% and 10.3%, respectively. In the domestic markets, India left everyone else behind with 22.9% growth, its nearest competitor was China with almost half of that at 11.9%. India’s remarkable story includes 21.9% capacity growth, but the country still had the highest load factor of 84.7%.

While the lowest international market growth score was 2.4% for North America, some domestic markets saw RPK contract with Brazil shrinking by 4.1% and the Russian Federation by 2%.