Passenger demand slowed in March, according to the latest results from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Demand—measured in revenue passenger kilometers—rose 3.1% year-on-year, which was the slowest pace of any month in nine years.
IATA said this was largely due to the Easter holiday falling nearly a month later than it had in 2018.
“While traffic growth slowed considerably in March, we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“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.”
While traffic growth slowed considerably in March, we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019
Capacity—measured in available seat kilometers—grew 4.2% in March, while load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7%.
Internationally, passenger demand rose just 2.5% compared to the year before. Those figures were down from 4.5% growth in February and almost five percentage points below the five-year average pace. Total capacity climbed 4.0%, and load factor fell 1.2 percentage points to 80.8%.
In the domestic markets, demand increased 4.1% year-on-year in March, but decelerated from the 6.2% growth recorded in February. Domestic capacity climbed 4.5%, and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage point to 83.4%.
See the breakdown by international regions below:
- European carriers saw March demand increase 4.7% over March 2018, down from 7.5% annual growth in February. March capacity rose 5.4% and load factor slid 0.6 percentage point to 84.2%, which still was the highest among regions.
- Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic climbed 2.0% in March, compared to the year-ago period, which was down from 4% growth in February. Capacity increased 4.0%, and load factor dropped 1.6 percentage points to 80.1%.
- Middle East carriers’ passenger demand fell 3.0% in March, marking a second consecutive month of declining traffic. Capacity increased 2.3%, and load factor plunged 4.0 percentage points to 73.8%.
- North American airlines posted a 3.0% traffic rise in March compared to the year-ago period, which was down somewhat from 4.2% year-on-year growth in February. Capacity climbed 2.6% and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 83.7%.
- Latin American airlines had the fastest traffic growth at 5.5%, compared to a year ago, up from 4.6% in February. March capacity rose 5.8%, and load factor dipped 0.2 percentage point to 81.9%.
- African airlines’ demand increased 2.1% compared to March 2018, down from a 2.5% rise in February. Capacity climbed 1.1%, and load factor strengthened 0.7 percentage point to 71.4%.