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15 December 2017

Santa Claus is falling further behind the global passenger business


  • We estimate that Santa Claus and his team will fly 1.4 billion flight segments this holiday period, in order to deliver presents to each of the world’s 1.9 billion children. (Of course, the fact that some children live in the same households makes Santa’s arduous task that little bit easier.) This is no simple feat, and the exact details of how the team manages it are shrouded in mystery.
  • However, long gone are the days when Santa could boast of flying more segments than the entire passenger industry combined. A combination of factors, including rising living standards as well as the long-standing decline in the inflationadjusted cost of air travel, mean that the industry overtook Santa in terms of segments flown in 1995. This trend has continued since, with passenger airlines set to fly three times as many segments as Santa this year. As we noted last year, Santa may need to rethink his business model if he wants to remain relevant in today’s ever-changing world. 
  • But, of course, size is not everything. The fact that more and more of us are living in cities means that the average distance that the sleigh needs to fly between each present delivery will have decreased significantly over the years. (Based on data from the UN, the proportion of the global population that lives in urban areas has risen from around 20% in 1950 to 58% in 2017.) The upshot is that Santa and his team are likely to be able to get their job finished more quickly than in the past, allowing them to get back to North Pole sooner to enjoy more of their own holiday season. 

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Previous charts of the week


​8 Dec, 2017
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​1 Dec, 2017
Unique city-pair connections exceed 20,000 for the first time (pdf)
​24 Nov, 2017
​Assesing the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria on aviation (pdf)
17 Nov, 2017
The importance of middle income households in air pax demand (pdf)
10 Nov, 2017
​Where does premium-class demand matter the most? (pdf) 
03 Nov, 2017
What's driving the eastward shift in aviation's centre of gravity? (pdf)
​27 Oct, 2017
What are the risks to the upbeat outlook for traffic volumes? (pdf)
20 Oct, 2017
What has driven the outperformance of Chinese aviation? (pdf)
​13 Oct, 2017
Confidence growing that cyclical upturn will continue (pdf)
0​6 Oct, 2017
What do the latest PMIs tell us about pax and freight demand? (pdf)
29 Sep, 2017
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22 Sep, 2017
Hurricane Harvey to add 0.3% to the industry's 2017 fuel bill (pdf)
15 Sep, 2017
​Is there another leg to the industry profit cycle? (pdf)
08 Sep, 2017
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​01 Sep, 2017
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​25 Aug, 2017
​Passenger share vs population share: why do they differ? (pdf)
​18 Aug, 2017
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​11 Aug, 2017
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04 Aug, 2017
​A strong first half performance... but can it be sustained? (pdf)
28 Jul, 2017
​Airlines are increasingly upbeat about the profitability outlook (pdf)
​21 Jul, 2017How useful are simple rules of thumb for predicting growth? (pdf)
​14 Jul, 2017 ​G20 leaders (and IATA) call for action on trade facilitation (pdf)
​7 Jul, 2017Estimating the impact of external shocks on passenger demand (pdf)
30 Jun, 2017Air freight yields are lifting off the bottom (pdf)
23 Jun, 2017 ​The key operating costs for airlines in 2016 (pdf)
16 Jun, 2017Profits dip but still robust in 2017; regional divergence still remains (pdf)
9 Jun, 2017Putting the squeeze on; airline margins narrow on rising costs (pdf)
2 Jun, 2017 ​A strong start to 2017 for air cargo, but have we passed the cyclical growth peak? (pdf)
​26 May, 2017 ​New York to Paris - celebrating Charles Lindbergh (pdf)
​19 May, 2017 ​Yields are stabilizing, helped by a stronger economic backdrop (pdf)
12 May, 2017 ​Juggling supply and demand - the role of deliveries and storage (pdf)
5 May, 2017The changing face of air passenger travel (pdf)
​28 Apr, 2017 ​Is the squeeze on profit margins coming to an end? (pdf)
​21 Apr, 2017 ​Pick-up in consumer confidence has supported air freight demand (pdf)
​7 Apr, 2017 Air freight has outperformed world trade since mid-2016 (pdf)​
​31 Mar, 2017 Travel & Tourism grows solidly in 2016, despite headwinds​ (pdf)
24 Mar, 2017 ​Composition of departures varies widely at an airport level (pdf)
17 Mar, 2017What's behind the strong start to air travel growth in 2017? (pdf)
10 Mar, 2017A fair go for all - celebrating International Women's Day (pdf)
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24 Feb, 2017 ​Low-cost carrier penetration varies widely by region (pdf)
​17 Feb, 2017 ​Load factor outcomes for 2016 - A mixed performance (pdf)
​​10 Feb, 2017Breaking the (old) rules: The challenge of innovation (pdf)
​3 Feb, 20172016 Traffic Outcomes - A better than average year!​ (pdf)
​27 Jan, 2017 What explains the recent outperformance of air freight?​​ (pdf)
​20 Jan, 2017 Living in interesting times - keys risks for 2017 (pdf)
​13 Jan, 2017What's in store for airline financial performance in 2017? (pdf)


​16 Dec, 2016 ​Is Santa's business model broken?​ (pdf)
​9 Dec, 2016 ​​Creating value for investors - The 2017 Industry Oulook (pdf)
​2 Dec, 2016Fragile vs fast growing - can the circle be squared?​ (pdf)
​25 Nov, 2016 A growth-accouting framework for air passenger demand​ (pdf)
​18 Nov, 2016The rise in jet fuel prices in 2016 has not been felt evenly​ (pdf)
11 Nov, 2016Domestic asset utilization at all-time September highs (pdf)
​4 Nov, 2016Air freight needs to look past traditional drivers of growth (pdf)
​28 Oct, 2016The times they are a-changing (pdf)
​21 Oct, 2016 ​Airline loyalty - What matters most (pdf)
​14 Oct, 2016​​ICAO agreement ensures continued focus on CO2 performance (pdf)
​7 Oct, 2016To buy or not to buy, that is the question...​ (pdf)​
​30 Sept, 2016 Slot rules support network flexibility​ (pdf)​
​23 Sept, 2016Tailwinds are fading, but passenger growth is unlikely to stall (pdf)
​16 Sept, 2016Airline industry profitability cycle showing signs of peaking​ (pdf)
​9 Sept, 2016​TTIP Postponed – another drag on the outlook for air cargo​ (pdf)
​2 Sept, 2016Weak world trade growth presents a headwind for air freight​​ (pdf)
​26 Aug, 2016​​Wide range of business models generating ROIC in 2015​ (pdf)
​19 Aug, 2016 Wide variation in load factors by international route (pdf)​
​12 Aug, 2016A busy year for aircraft deliveries​ (pdf)
​5 Aug, 2016The Olympic Games and air transport - faster, higher, stronger?​​​ (pdf)
​29 July, 2016BRICS' traffic differences driven by economic and network changes​ (pdf)
​22 July, 2016 Global economic growth looking more fragile after Brexit (pdf)​
​15 July, 2016China - The middle class in the Middle Kingdom... (pdf)
8 July, 2016​​Generating free cash flow (pdf)
​1 July, 2016The real reason why England lost to Iceland in Euro 2016 (pdf)
​24 Jun, 2016The impact of 'Brexit' on UK Air Transport (pdf) and French version (pdf)
​17 Jun, 2016​​Oil prices and the US dollar (pdf)
​10 Jun, 2016​​Airline margins less leveraged to the economic cycle today​ (pdf)
​3 Jun, 2016More 'normal' returns, but wide spread within and between regions (pdf)
​27 May, 2016​6 things you really need to know about Irish aviation (pdf)
​20 May, 2016Global benefits of air transport (pdf)​
​13 May, 2016Premium travel offering an important financial buffer on key routes (pdf)​
​6 May, 2016Cracks in the BRICs (pdf)​​
​29 Apr, 2016 Diverging views in passenger volumes and yields​​ (pdf)​
​22 Apr, 2016 Aviation's centre of gravity to continue to shift eastward (pdf)​
​15 Apr, 2016​​Air travel growth defying economic gravity? (pdf)
​8 Apr, 2016The benefits of modernizing European airspace (pdf)
​1 Apr, 2016Departing passengers - 2015 airport rankings (pdf)
​24 Mar, 2016Oil prices lower for longer, but it's not all good news for airlines (pdf)
​18 Mar, 2016​​Global airline shares are holding their own in 2016 so far​ (pdf) and (video)
​11 Mar, 2016 Passenger load factors reach all-time highs in January (pdf)
​4 Mar, 2016​​Divergent trends in performance of airlines in the Americas (pdf)
​26 Feb, 2016Potential increase in traffic from enhanced connectivity in Africa (pdf)
​19 Feb, 2016Weaker demand weighing in premium-class traffic growth (pdf)
​12 Feb, 2016​​Seasoning to taste - how to cope with seasonal fluctuations (pdf)
​5 Feb, 2016Passenger markets have proven to be resilient (pdf)
​29 Jan, 2016It's a risky business (pdf)
​22 Jan, 2016​​Potential for a post-sanction surge in Iran's air market (pdf)
​15 Jan, 2016China’s air passenger market can withstand stock bubble burst (pdf)
​8 Jan, 2016Happy new year (for some more than others!) (pdf)


​11 Dec, 2015Airline investors paid a 'normal' return for the 1st time (pdf)
4 Dec, 2015Yuan-way bet (pdf)
27 Nov, 2015 Low oil prices are good for airlines... aren't they? (pdf)
​20 Nov, 2015 Credit (rating) where it's due... (pdf)
​13 Nov, 2015Air passenger markets and the rule of 72 (pdf)
6 Nov, 2015​​​Diverging trend in passenger and freight load factors (pdf)
​30 Oct, 2015​​Super-connectors, international destinations & domestic markets (pdf)
23 Oct, 2015​​​The changing face of global air passenger markets (video)
​16 Oct, 2015​​Cost control focus shifts from fuel to labour (pdf)
​9 Oct, 2015​​Divergent performance in the Americas (pdf)
​2 Oct, 2015​​Falls in USD jet fuel prices have not been felt evenly (pdf)



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