Airlines continue to maximize asset efficiency despite numerous challenges.

Passenger numbers

Growth in passenger traffic should be viewed as positive even if it is only moderate, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

The latest IATA figures show that demand—measured in total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs)—rose 3.4% year-on-year in October.

Although this was a modest slowdown from 3.9% growth recorded in September, owing to softer traffic performance in domestic markets, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac the latest figures were still be commended.

The fact that traffic is growing is a positive, and the industry continues to do an excellent job of maximizing asset efficiency

“Traffic growth continues to be depressed compared to historical long-term growth levels, reflecting continued moderating economic activity in some key markets and sagging business confidence,” said de Juniac.

“However, the fact that traffic is growing is a positive, and the industry continues to do an excellent job of maximizing asset efficiency, as shown in the record load factor.”

Capacity—measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs)—increased 2.2% in October, while load factor edged up 0.9% to 82.0%, a monthly record.

In the international markets, passenger demand grew by 3.2% compared to October 2018 but remained from September’s year-on-year performance.

All regions recorded an increase in passenger traffic except Latin America. Airlines in the Middle East led the way for the first time since June 2018. Overall capacity rose by 1.6% and load factor increased 1.3% to 81.0%.

See the breakdown by region below:

  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ October traffic increased 3.8% compared to the year-ago period, a bit below the 4.0% annual growth recorded in September. Capacity rose 2.7% and load factor edged up 0.9 percentage point to 79.6%.
  • European carriers saw October demand climb 2.1% year-to-year, down from 3.2% growth in September. Capacity rose 1.3%, and load factor climbed 0.7 percentage point to 85.7%.
  • Middle Eastern airlines posted a 5.9% traffic increase in October, which was a sharp increase over the 1.8% growth seen in September. Capacity increased 0.3%, and load factor surged 3.9 percentage points to 73.5%.  
  • North American carriers had the second highest international demand in October, with traffic up 4.1% compared to October a year ago and largely in-line with a 4.3% annual increase in September. Capacity rose 2.0%, and load factor grew by 1.6 percentage points to 82.1%.
  • Latin American airlines experienced a 0.6% demand drop in October compared to the same month last year. This was the weakest performance in nine years and compared to a 0.9% positive growth in September. Capacity fell 2.3% and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 81.4%.
  • African airlines’ traffic climbed 1.8% in October, the same as in September. Capacity rose 3.6%, however, and load factor dipped 1.3 percentage points to 69.0%.