Miami - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for April showing robust demand growth compared to April 2014. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 5.9%. April capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.1%, and load factor slipped 0.1 percentage points to 79.4%.

Domestic demand grew by 7.2%, outpacing international demand which grew by 5.2% compared to April 2014.

“Demand for connectivity remains strong. That’s positive news. But the performance of the industry is multi-tiered. Middle East and Asia-Pacific based carriers led with growth well above the 5.9% average, while carriers in Europe and the Americas were below it. And African airlines reported a contraction compared to the previous year,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s DG and CEO.

Apr 2015 vs. Apr 2014 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 5.2% 5.9% 78.6
Domestic 7.2% 6.4% 80.8
Total Market 5.9% 6.1% 79.4
YTD 2015 vs. YTD 2014 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 6.4% 6.1% 78.2
Domestic 6.1% 5.4% 80.3
Total Market 6.3% 5.8% 79.0

International Passenger Markets

April international passenger demand rose 5.2% compared to April 2014. Airlines in all regions except Africa recorded growth led by the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. Capacity climbed 5.9% and load factor dipped 0.5 percentage points to 78.6%.

  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ April traffic jumped 9.0% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 6.0% and load factor surged 2.2 percentage points to 78.3%. To date the sharp reversal in regional trade activity after strong gains in late 2014 has not had an adverse impact on business-related international air travel.
  • European carriers experienced a 3.7% demand increase in April versus April 2014. Capacity rose 4.7% and load factor declined 0.8 percentage points to 80.7%, still the highest among the regions for the month. Although signs are that a positive response to the European Central Bank stimulus has faltered owing to firming in the Euro and oil prices, economic stimulus is helping ease downward pressure on demand.
  • North American airlines had just a 0.7% rise in traffic compared to April a year ago. US economic growth turned negative in the first quarter of 2015 while the stronger dollar is likely hampering inbound leisure travel. Capacity rose 4.1% and load factor fell 2.6 percentage points to 78.1%.
  • Middle East carriers’ demand climbed 8.2% in April but this was exceeded by a 13.3% jump in capacity with the result that load factor dropped 3.6 percentage points to 77.2% Economies in the region are reasonably well positioned to withstand the plunge in oil revenues and regionally-based carriers continue to gain market-share.
  • Latin American airlines saw a 6.3% rise in traffic compared to April 2014. Capacity rose 7.3%, however, causing load factor to slip 0.7 percentage points to 77.7%. Regional trade volumes have been improving but Brazil’s economy remains a trouble spot.
  • African airlines’ traffic fell 3.2% in April year-to-year, while capacity dropped 5.0%, resulting in a 1.3 percentage point rise in load factor to 67.5%. Negative economic developments in parts of the continent, including Nigeria, which relies heavily on oil revenues, are likely contributing to the depressed results.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand rose 7.2% in April compared to April 2014, with the strongest growth occurring in India and China. Total domestic capacity also was up 6.4%, and load factor was 80.8%, up 0.6 percentage points.

Apr 2015 vs. Apr 2014 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
Australia 0.1% -1.8% 76.8
Brazil 2.3% 0.9% 80.8
China P.R. 15.5% 13.2% 81.5
India 20.7% 8.7% 82.0
Japan 6.4% 2.6% 63.3
Russian Federation 1.7% 13.2% 67.2
US 4.3% 4.4% 85.2
Domestic 7.2% 6.4% 80.8
  • India’s domestic demand jumped 20.7% in April compared to a year ago likely owing to continued market stimulation by local carriers as well noteworthy improvements in economic growth.
  • China’s domestic traffic climbed 15.5% year-over-year but the strong momentum may not be maintained in the face of indications of slowing economic growth.
  • Russian air travel remains weak, with just a 1.7% rise over the year-ago period, consistent with the economy being in recession.

The Bottom Line:

“As we head into the traditionally strong summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere, the outlook for aviation is a mixed picture. Lower oil prices are helping to keep the cost of air travel down. The stronger US dollar, however, may dampen demand in some markets. And it remains to be seen how long robust travel demand can stand up in the face of a trio of bad economic news: unexpectedly poor first quarter performance in the US, continuing weakness in the Eurozone and slowing regional trade in Asia Pacific,” said Tyler.

Strong passenger demand and cargo weakness will set the scene for the 71st IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit which will be held in Miami 7-9 June 2015. “In just a few days, the global commercial aviation community will gather in Miami. Miami provides an excellent example of the economic power of connectivity provided by aviation. It is a well-established gateway between North and South America that has grown into a global aviation hub and prime destination for both leisure and business travelers. And that contributes to Miami’s prosperity by creating jobs and driving economic growth,” said Tyler.

View April passenger results (pdf)

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Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 260 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.
  • 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 66% 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 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 31.5%, Europe 26.3%, North America 24.6%, Middle East 9.5%, Latin America 5.1%, and Africa 2.1%.