People, Travel

Global Air Travel Up 5.3% in March

Global Air Travel Up 5.3% in MarchGlobal Air Travel Up 5.3% in March

Global air-passenger traffic rose by 5.3% year on year in March as measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported.

Capacity grew slightly faster at 5.9%, which pushed the average load factor down by half a percentage point to 79.6%.

March performance shows a moderate slowdown on the year-on-year growth rates recorded in January (7.2%) and February (8.6%) even after adjusting for the leap-year impact in February.

Demand for international traffic grew significantly more quickly (6.2%) than that for domestic travel (3.7%).

“While in line with long-term trends, demand growth in March represented a slowdown compared [with] January and February,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director-general and chief executive officer.

“It is premature to say whether this marks the end of the recent very strong results. We do expect further stimulus in the form of network expansion and declines in travel costs. However, the wider economic backdrop remains subdued.”

March international passenger demand rose 6.2% compared with March 2015, which was a decline compared with the 9.1% increase in February. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 6.9 %, causing load factor to slip 0.5 percentage point to 78.5%.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 6% in March compared with the year-ago period; however, capacity increased 7.8%, which caused load factor to slide 1.3 percentage points to 77.4%.

Key routes within Asia, across the Pacific and to the Middle East grew strongly in the opening months, although Asia-to-Europe routes lagged behind.