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Press Release No.: 11

Date: 7 March 2017

Passenger Demand Growth Hits Five-Year Peak in January

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Translations: Crescimento da demanda de voos para passageiros é o mais alto de cinco anos em janeiro​ (pdf)
El tráfico aéreo de pasajeros alcanza su máximo en cinco años (pdf)
الطلب على النقل الجوي في يناير 2017 يحقق نتائج أفضل من السنوات الخمس الماضية (pdf)
国际航协:1 月份客运需求增长创5 年新高 (pdf)

Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for January 2017 showing demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 9.6% compared to January 2016. This was the strongest increase in more than five years. Results were positively affected by traffic associated with the Lunar New Year celebrations, which occurred in January this year, compared to February in 2016. IATA estimates the holiday-related travel contributed up to one-half a percentage point in extra demand growth. January capacity rose 8.0%, and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 80.2%.

“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011. This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

January 2017 (% year-on-year)World share1RPK ASKPLF (%-pt)​2PLF (level)​3
Total Market100.0%9.6%8.0%1.2%80.2%
Africa2.2%5.2%3.9%0.9%70.1%
Asia Pacific32.9%14.3%11.1%​2.2%​81.5%
Europe26.4​%8.4%7.0%​1.0%79.4%
Latin America5.2%​4.9%3.7%​0.9%​83.2%
Middle East​​9.6%13.5%11.2%​1.6%​79.4%
North America23.7%3.4%​4.1%​-0.5%80.0%

​1. % of industry RPKs in 2016
2. Year-on-year change in load factor
3. Load factor level

January international passenger traffic surged 9.3% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 7.5% and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage point to 80.3%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand led by the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

  • Asia Pacific carriers recorded an increase of 10.9% compared to January 2016, helped by the impact of Lunar New Year-related travel and solid growth on routes within Asia. Capacity rose 8.9%, pushing up load factor 1.5 percentage points to 81.4%.
  • European carriers’ international traffic climbed 8.3% in January compared to the year-ago period against a backdrop of moderate momentum in the Eurozone economy. Capacity rose 6.7% and load factor was up 1.2 percentage points to 80.3%.
  • Middle East carriers had the strongest year-over-year demand growth in January at 14.4%. Capacity climbed 11.4% and load factor rose against the year-ago period for a third consecutive month, up 2.1 percentage points to 79.8%.
  • North American airlines had the slowest demand growth, with traffic rising 3.2% in January, compared to a year ago. Capacity climbed 3.1%, and load factor was flat at 80.3%. Traffic on the transpacific market has continued to trend upwards but North Atlantic traffic growth has weakened since the middle of 2016, reflecting softer demand on UK-US routes.
  • Latin American airlines’ traffic climbed 8.2% in January. Capacity rose 5.7% and load factor increased 1.9 percentage points to 83.7%, highest among the regions. Robust international demand within South America is offsetting weaker demand to North America.
  • African airlines saw January traffic rise 5.6% compared to January 2016. This reflects a recovery on the key routes to/from Europe, despite continuing weakness in South Africa and Nigeria. With capacity up 4.5%, load factor rose 0.7 percentage point to 69.9%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic air travel climbed 9.9% in January year-on-year. All markets except Brazil showed growth, paced by double-digit increases in China, India and Russia. Capacity increased 8.7% and load factor was 80.1%, up 0.9% percentage points.

 January 2017 (% year-on-year)World share1RPK ASKPLF (%-pt)​2PLF (level)​3
Domestic36.3%9.9%8.7%0.9​%80.1%
Dom. Australia (4)1.0%1.1%-0.4%​1.2%77.3%
Dom. Brazil (4)1.2%-2.0%-2.8%0.7%​83.8%
Dom. China P.R. (4)8.7​%23.2%18.5%​3.2%83.2%
Dom. India (4)1.3%26.6%20.9%​3.9%​88.2%
Dom. Japan (4)​​1.1%3.5%1.3%​1.4%​65.2%
Dom .Russian Fed (4)1.3%15.4%​16.6%-0.7​%​71.6%
​Dom. USA (4)14.9%​​3.5%​4.7%​-0.9%80.0%​

(1) % of industry RPKs in 2016
(2) Year-on-year change in load factor
(3) Load factor level

  • India led domestic all markets in year-to-year growth for the 22nd month in a row; January traffic soared 26.6%, marking the 15th consecutive month of 20%-plus annual growth. Demand is being stimulated by strong flight frequency.
  • China’s domestic traffic growth was not far behind, up 23.2% compared to January 2016. This was the strongest monthly growth since June 2010. The timing of the Lunar New Year affected the results but ongoing robust expansion in the services sector as well as increasing flight frequency are boosting demand.

The Bottom Line:

“Aviation is the business of freedom. Air travel liberates people to lead better lives and creates greater economic opportunity for all by bringing people closer to trade and markets. Governments have a responsibility to secure their borders. They must also preserve the enormous economic and social benefits provided by borders that are open to trade and travel,” said de Juniac.

View January passenger traffic result (pdf)

For more information, please contact:
Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967
Email: corpcomms@iata.org

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 265 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.
  • You can follow us at http://twitter.com/iata2press for news specially catered for the media.
  • All figures are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication plus estimates for missing data. Historic figures may be revised.
  • Domestic RPKs accounted for about 36% of the total market. It is most important for North American airlines as it is about 66% of their operations. In Latin America, domestic travel accounts for 48% of operations, primarily owing to the large Brazilian market. For Asia-Pacific carriers, the large markets in India, China and Japan mean that domestic travel accounts for 45% of the region’s operations. It is less important for Europe and most of Africa where domestic travel represents just 11% and 14% of operations, respectively. And it is negligible for Middle Eastern carriers for whom domestic travel represents just 4% of operations.
  • Explanation of measurement terms:
    • RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometers measures actual passenger traffic
    • ASK: Available Seat Kilometers measures available passenger capacity
    • PLF: Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used.
  • IATA statistics cover international and domestic scheduled air traffic for IATA member and non-member airlines.
  • Total passenger traffic market shares by region of carriers in terms of RPK are: Asia-Pacific 32.9%, Europe 26.4%, North America 23.7%, Middle East 9.6%, Latin America 5.2%, and Africa 2.2%.

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