Tariffs and trade tensions beginning to affect traveler numbers, says IATA Director General and CEO.

Global passenger traffic remained healthy in November but growth is beginning to moderate, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The latest figures released by IATA show that total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased by 6.2% year-on-year, with capacity in available seat kilometers (ASKs) rose 6.8% in the same period.

Despite the growth, load factor dipped 0.4 percentage point to 80.0%. It is only the third time in two years that year-to-year figures have fallen.

Traffic is solid. But there are clear signs that growth is moderating in line with the slowing global economy

IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said that the industry must heed the load factor figures as an indicator that tariffs and trade tensions across the world are taking their toll on passenger traffic.

“Traffic is solid. But there are clear signs that growth is moderating in line with the slowing global economy,” said de Juniac.

“We still expect 6% demand growth this year. But trade tensions, protective tariffs and Brexit are all uncertainties that overhang the industry.”

International passenger demand increased by 6.6% compared to November 2017, up from October's 6.2%, with all regions showing growth, especially in Europe. Capacity climbed 6.7%, and load factor dipped 0.1 percentage point to 78.4%.

In the domestic markets, demand rose 5.6% year-on-year, but fell from 6.5% in October. Domestic capacity climbed 6.9%, and load factor dropped 1.0 percentage point to 82.8%.

See the breakdown by international region below:

  • European carriers saw demand increase by 9.0% in November 2018, which was a nine-month high. Capacity climbed 9.1% and load factor slipped 0.1 percentage point to 82.1%, the highest load factor among the regions. 
  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ November traffic climbed 6.0% compared to the year-ago period, up from 5.7% growth in October. Capacity also rose 6.0% and load factor was flat at 79.1%.
  • Middle East carriers had a 2.8% demand increase, which was the lowest among the regions for a third consecutive month. Capacity rose 5.6% and load factor slipped 1.9 percentage points to 69.0%. 
  • North American airlines’ traffic climbed 6.1%, in November, up from 5.7% in October and well ahead of the five-year average rate of 4.0%. Capacity rose 3.8% and load factor edged up 1.7 percentage points to 80.6%.
  • Latin American airlines’ November traffic climbed 5.8% compared to November 2017, which was an increase from 5.2% growth recorded in October. Despite the increase, growth has slowed on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity rose 6.6% and load factor slipped 0.6 percentage point to 80.6%.
  • African airlines experienced a 5.7% rise in demand compared to November 2017, down from 6.4% in October but higher than the five-year average of 5.8%. Capacity rose 3.9% and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 68.9%.