The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for August 2019 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 3.8% compared to the year-ago period. This was above the 3.5% annual increase for July. August capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 3.5%. Load factor climbed 0.3 percentage point to 85.7%, which was a new monthly record, as airlines continue to maximize asset use.
"While we saw a pick-up in passenger demand in August compared to July, growth remains below the long-term trend and well-down on the roughly 8.5% annual growth seen over the 2016 to Q1 2018 period. This reflects the impact of economic slowdowns in some key markets, uncertainty over Brexit and the trade war between the US and China. Nonetheless, airlines are doing a great job of matching capacity to demand. With passenger load factors reaching a new high of 85.7% this is good for overall efficiency and passengers' individual carbon footprint," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 2.9% traffic increase in August, which was an increase from a 1.7% rise in July. While this was better than the average of the past twelve months, it remains far below the double-digit growth trend of recent years. Falling business confidence in parts of the region, combined with some key airlines going through a process of structural change and geopolitical tensions are all likely to be contributing factors. Capacity increased 1.3%, with load factor rising 1.3 percentage points to 82.4%.
African airlines' traffic climbed 4.1% in August, up from 3.2% in July. This solid performance comes after South Africa – the region's second largest economy – returned to positive economic growth in Q2 2019. Capacity rose 6.1%, however, and load factor dipped 1.4 percentage points to 75.6%.