Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for October showing a strengthening in demand growth compared to September 2014 and to the year-ago period. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 5.7% over October 2013, slightly ahead of the 5.2% year-on-year rise recorded in September 2014. October capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.5%, causing load factor to rise 0.1 percentage points to 79.1%.

“Against a backdrop of economic weakness in some regions, October traffic results show demand for connectivity remains strong on a global basis,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“With 2014 drawing to a close, the outlook for air travel remains largely positive. Improvements in economies in Asia-Pacific and the US are offsetting weakness in the Eurozone and China. The fall in oil prices, if sustained, could provide a much-needed operating cushion. But there are risks which must also be accounted for—including the proliferation of political instability,” said Tyler.

Oct 2014 vs. Oct 2013 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 5.5% 6.4% 78.0
Domestic 5.8% 4.0% 81.1
Total Market 5.7% 5.5% 79.1
YTD 2014 vs. YTD 2013 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 6.2% 6.4% 79.7
Domestic 5.2% 4.2% 81.0
Total Market 5.8% 5.6% 80.2

International Passenger Markets

October international passenger demand rose 5.5% compared to the same month last year, with airlines in all regions except Africa recording growth. Capacity climbed 6.4% and load factor dipped 0.6 percentage points to 78.0%.

  • European airlines saw demand increase by 5.8% in October versus October 2013, the strongest growth among the three largest regions. Although there has been some slowdown in the Eurozone economy, travel on low cost carriers has remained robust and is helping sustain current results. Capacity rose 5.0% and load factor climbed 0.6 percentage points to 81.9%, highest among regions.
  • Asia-Pacific carriers’ traffic rose 5.5% compared to the year-ago period, reflecting stronger regional trade activity which encourages business travel. The economic slowdown in China has yet to have any impact on regional trade activity and related business travel. Capacity rose 7.4% and load factor dropped 1.4 percentage points to 74.9%.
  • North American airlines experienced a 1.8% rise in traffic compared to October a year ago. While a slowdown compared to September year-over-year growth, underlying trends in business activity are positive and growth in trade volumes has accelerated. Capacity rose 3.2%, which caused load factor to dip 1.1 percentage points to 80.3%.
  • Middle East carriers’ demand climbed 10.3% in October, the largest increase for any region, reflecting strong regional economies with rising export activity that supports regional trade and related international business travel. Capacity climbed 13.5%, causing load factor to fall 2.1 percentage points to 73.5%.
  • Latin American airlines saw traffic climb 6.5% compared to October 2013, second best among regions. Capacity rose 6.0% and load factor rose 0.5 percentage points to 80.5%. The weak growth in the Brazilian economy may be deteriorating further but regional trade volumes have been improving.
  • African airlines’ traffic contracted 1.6% in October, while ASKs slipped 0.1%, resulting in a 1.0 percentage point drop in load factor to 66.8%, the lowest for any region. The weakness reflects adverse economic developments in some parts of the continent. However, the improving outlook for South Africa could ease some of the downward pressure on the continent’s carriers. Additionally, the effect of any Ebola-related traffic downturn is mostly restricted to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, markets that comprise a very small proportion of overall African traffic.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand rose 5.8% in October compared to October 2013, with the strongest growth occurring in China and India. Total domestic capacity climbed 4.0%, and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 81.1%.

Oct 2014 vs. Oct 2013 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
Australia 3.4% -1.2% 82.7
Brazil 8.0% 3.9% 81.1
China P.R. 10.0% 10.1% 80.8
India 16.3% 3.4% 77.4
Japan 1.3% -2.5% 70.0
Russian Federation 6.1% 2.4% 75.0
US 3.8% 2.0% 84.3
Domestic 5.8% 4.0% 81.1

  • China’s domestic demand rose 10% in October compared to a year ago, a solid result in view of indicators suggesting that the economy is starting to slow.
  • Indian domestic traffic climbed 16.3%. Although this was a considerable slowdown compared to September year-over-year growth of 26.4%, it was still a strong result and reflects market stimulation by local carriers.

The Bottom Line:

“This weekend marks International Civil Aviation Day. And next month will begin the second century of commercial aviation. These are fitting moments to pause and reflect upon the reliance of the global economy on connectivity. Even more important is the challenge to prepare for the future by ensuring that the industry has a smart regulatory environment, cost-efficient infrastructure and a reasonable tax obligation,” said Tyler.

View October traffic results (pdf)

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Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 250 airlines comprising 84% of global air traffic.
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  • All figures are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication plus estimates for missing data. Historic figures may be revised.
  • Domestic RPKs account for about 37% of the total market. It is most important for North American airlines as it is about 67% of their operations. In Latin America, domestic travel accounts for 47% 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 44% 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 5% 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 30.9%, North America 24.3%, Europe 28.3%, Middle East 8.9%, Latin America 5.4%, and Africa 2.2%.