Despite an improvement in year-on-year traffic, IATA warned that protectionism is inhibiting the industry’s potential.

Passenger growth is beginning to increase again but trade tensions continue to affect airlines’ performance. 

That is the message from the International Air Transport Association, following the publication of the latest passenger traffic figures.

Demand—measured in revenue passenger kilometers—increased by 5% in June, compared to the year ago period. The figure is a slight increase from 4.7% year-on-year growth recorded in May.

June continued the trend of solid passenger demand growth, but amid continuing trade tensions, growth was not as strong as a year ago

Despite the improved figures, which also saw capacity—measured in available seat kilometers—rise by 3.3% and load factor hit a June record of 84.4%, IATA warned that protectionism is inhibiting the industry’s potential.

“June continued the trend of solid passenger demand growth while the record load factor shows that airlines are maximizing efficiency,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Amid continuing trade tensions between the US and China, and rising economic uncertainty in other regions, growth was not as strong as a year ago, however.”

International passenger demand increased by 5.4% compared to June 2018, with all regions recording growth. The leading region was Africa, as overall capacity rose 3.4% and load factor grew to 83.8%.

In the domestic markets, traffic figures climbed 4.4% in June year-on-year while capacity rose 3.1% and load factor increased to 85.5%. Russia led the way domestically, but overall traffic fell slightly from the 4.7% recorded annual growth in May.

See the breakdown by international region below:

  • European airlines saw traffic rise 5.6% in June compared to June 2018, in line with 5.5% demand growth the month before. Capacity climbed 4.5% and load factor rose 1.0% percentage point to 87.9%. 
  • Middle Eastern carriers posted an 8.1% demand increase in June compared to the same month last year, which was well up on the 0.6% annual increase recorded in May. Capacity rose 1.7% and load factor jumped 4.5 percentage points to 76.6%.
  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ June traffic rose 4.0% compared to the year-ago period, which was down from a 4.9% increase in May. Capacity rose 3.1% and load factor edged up 0.7 percentage point to 81.4%.  
  • North American carriers’ demand rose 3.5% compared to June a year ago, down from 5.0% annual growth in May, similarly reflecting US-China trade tensions. Capacity climbed 2.0%, with load factor increasing 1.3 percentage points to 87.9%.
  • Latin American airlines experienced a 5.8% rise in traffic compared to the same month last year, up slightly from 5.6% annual growth recorded in May. Capacity increased by 2.5% and load factor surged 2.6 percentage points to 84.0%.
  • African airlines’ traffic soared 11.7% in June, up from 5.1% in May. Capacity rose 7.7%, and load factor jumped 2.6 percentage points to 70.5%.