According to first estimates of our research team, AEA member airlines in 2015 achieved the highest rate of growth in passenger traffic since 2011, carrying more passengers with passenger load factors once again at record high levels. AEA member airlines welcomed close to 307 million passengers on scheduled services in 2015, an increase of 12.6 million over 2014, representing a growth of +4.3%. Cargo volumes remained a significant challenge, with zero to negative growth expected for full year 2015.
On services within Europe and on domestic services AEA member airlines carried an additional 10.1 million passengers, an increase of +4.5%. With RPK at +4.6% outstripping capacity there will be a further improvement in the passenger load factor which is expected to end the year at 77%, up from 76.5% in 2014.
Long haul services registered a marginal improvement in passenger load factor, now estimated at 83.7% for full year 2015. This was achieved on a +3.3% increase in passenger numbers and a +4.5% growth in RPK.
Despite some signs of recovery in air cargo in recent years, 2015 is likely to bring a further set-back, with a result in freight tonne-kms close to zero or even negative for the year just concluded. This result is driven by weak all-cargo traffic growth whereas cargo carried in belly-hold on passenger aircraft is more buoyant. Cargo development is closely linked to the strength of the economy, which has yet to reach full potential.
“EU must now provide a policy for sustainable growth”
“AEA member airlines have been able to achieve these positive results by serious restructuring and the introduction of new commercial strategies”, says AEA’s CEO Athar Husain Khan. “Unfortunately, the current regulatory framework in Europe did not help them. European airlines are still in need of a European policy that allows them to achieve sustainable growth in the future.”
AEA therefore welcomes the long-awaited Aviation Strategy announcement of the EU Commission which is the result of a year's work by the Commission. However, the strategy lacks ambition and does not propose adequate measures to bolster the competitiveness of air European operators. Athar Husain Khan: “There is an urgent need for the Commission to now propose more specific and far-reaching remedies. This is the top priority on our agenda in 2016. AEA will continue to liaise with the EU Commission and EU decision makers to request immediate actions. ”Ineffective regulations, airport capacity, air traffic control and cost / tax burdens imposed on our airlines must be resolved"