Passenger load factor reached a 28-year high in August following a rise in global passenger demand and capacity.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) data showed that demand, measured in total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), grew by 6.4% year-on-year while capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs), increased by 5.5% compared to August 2017.
Those results saw load factor climb by 0.7% to 85.3%, a figure which has not been achieved since at least 1990.
The record load factor reflects that airlines are maximizing their assets at a time of rising costs limiting the opportunities for low fare stimulation
IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said the results showed airlines were "maximizing" their assets despite difficulties arising from an increase in costs including fuel prices.
"The industry experienced continued strong traffic growth in August, putting the cap on a very good peak travel season. The record load factor reflects that airlines are maximizing the efficiency of their assets at a time of rising fuel prices and other costs that are limiting the opportunities for low fare stimulation," said de Juniac.
International passenger demand rose 5.6% year-on-year in August, with all regions enjoying an increase, led by Asia-Pacific. International capacity climbed by 5.1%, with load factor edging up by 0.4% to 85.0%. See the breakdown by region below.
- Asia-Pacific airlines’ August traffic increased 7.5% compared to the year-ago period, which was an acceleration compared to a 7.2% rise in July. Capacity rose 6.1% and load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 82.6%.
- European carriers saw August demand climb 5.1% year-to-year, which was also an increase from the 4.5% growth recorded in July. Capacity rose 4.5%, and load factor climbed 0.5 percentage point to 88.9%, which was the highest among regions.
- Middle Eastern carriers posted a 5.4% traffic increase in August, which was a slowdown from 6.2% in July. Capacity increased 6.3%, with load factor slipping 0.7 percentage point to 80.7%.
- North American airlines’ international demand rose 3.7% compared to August a year ago. This was a slowdown from 4.1% growth recorded in July. Capacity rose 3.3%, and load factor grew by 0.4 percentage point to 87.2%.
- Latin American airlines experienced a 4.8% demand increase in August compared to the same month last year, up from 3.5% annual growth in July. Capacity increased by 6.5% and load factor slid 1.3 percentage points to 81.4%.
- African airlines’ traffic climbed 6.8% in August. This was a slowdown from the 7.4% growth recorded in July. Capacity rose 3.8%, and load factor surged 2.2 percentage points to 78.2%.
Domestic travel demand rose by 7.7% year-on-year in August 2018, which was an increase on the 7.2% growth recorded in July, with capacity growing by 6.2% and load factor improving 1.2% to 85.7%.
India and China enjoyed the best of the domestic travel results, with Indian airlines achieving a record 48th consecutive month of double-digit growth as demand soared by 22.6%. In China, domestic traffic increased by 14.9% year-on-year, a four month high.
The strong developments in both countries are a result of rising living standards and large increases in the number of flight choices available to passengers.