IATA Traffic Statistics March. Freight and Passenger

- Geneva, Switzerland.

Passenger

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 5.3%, compared to the same month last year. Capacity grew slightly faster at 5.9% which pushed the average load factor down by half a percentage point to 79.6%.

March performance shows a moderate slowdown on the year-on-year growth rates recorded in January (7.2%) and February (8.6%) even after adjusting for the leap-year impact in February. Demand for international traffic grew significantly more quickly (6.2%) than that for domestic travel (3.7%).

"While in line with long-term trends, demand growth in March represented a slow-down compared to January and February. It is premature to say whether this marks the end of the recent very strong results. We do expect further stimulus in the form of network expansion and declines in travel costs. However, the wider economic backdrop remains subdued," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

March 2016
(% year-on-year)

World share¹

RPK

ASK

PLF
(%-pt)²         

PLF
(level)³  

Total Market

100.0%

5.3%

5.9%

-0.5%      

79.6%

Africa

2.2%

9.7%

8.2%

1.0%

68.2%

Asia Pacific

31.5%

5.1%

6.7%

-1.2%

78.3%

Europe

26.7%

5.3%

4.6%

0.5%

80.2%

Latin America

5.4%

3.8%

2.8%

0.7%

78.3%

Middle East

9.4%

11.5%

13.4%

-1.3%

76.7%

North America

24.7%

3.0%

3.5%

 -0.4%

83.6%

             ¹% of industry RPKs in 2015   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level

International Passenger Markets

March international passenger demand rose 6.2% compared to March 2015, which was a decline compared to the 9.1% increase in February. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 6.9%, causing load factor to slip 0.5% percentage points to 78.5%.

  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 6% in March compared to the year-ago period; however, capacity increased 7.8%, which caused load factor to slide 1.3 percentage points to 77.4%. Key routes within Asia, across the Pacific and to the Middle East grew strongly in the opening months, although Asia to Europe routes lagged behind.
  • European carriers saw March demand climb 5.5% over March 2015. Capacity rose 5.4% and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 80.8%, highest among regions. The largest routes, including between the UK and Germany, and to and from Spain, have seen strong growth this year. It is too soon to know how the terrorist attacks in Brussels will affect demand.
  • Middle East carriers experienced a 12% rise in demand in March, which was the largest increase among regions. Capacity increased 13.6%, however, and load factor dropped 1.1 percentage points to 76.5%.
  • North American airlines’ traffic climbed 0.7% in March compared to the year-ago period, the slowest pace since April 2013. Carriers here have been concentrating their efforts on the larger and stronger domestic markets. Capacity rose just 0.6% and load factor was flat at 80.5%.
  • Latin American airlines had a 7.9% increase in traffic in March, down from a 10.4% increase in February, suggesting the upward trend in business-related international demand has softened. Capacity climbed 6.3%, causing load factor to surge 1.2 percentage points to 78.5%.
  • African airlines continued to enjoy strong demand, with traffic up 11.2% compared to March 2015. The turnaround after several difficult years coincides with expansion of long-haul networks by the region’s carriers. Capacity rose 9.7%, and load factor strengthened to 66.6%, up 0.9 percentage points.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic demand rose 3.7% in March compared to March 2015, a dramatic slowdown from the leap year-aided 7.8% growth recorded in February. This was driven primarily by performance in the two largest markets, the US--which accounts for two of every five domestic passengers--and China. Domestic capacity climbed 4.3%, and load factor retreated 0.4 percentage points to 81.6%.

March 2016
(% year-on-year)

World share¹
     

RPK

ASK

PLF
(%-pt)²     

 PLF
(level)³       

Domestic

36.4%

3.7%

4.3%

-0.4%

81.6%

Australia

1.1%

2.3%

2.4%

-0.1%

75.7%

Brazil  

1.4%

-8.3%

-7.9%

-0.3%

77.1%

China P.R

8.4%

3.3%

6.3%

-2.4%

81.2%

India     

1.2%

27.4%

21.7%

3.7%

83.1%

Japan     

1.2%

-1.7%

-3.8%

1.6%

72.3%

Russia Fed.

1.3%

 4.0%

-4.8%

6.3%

75.0%

US

15.4%

4.1%

4.9%

-0.7%

85.4%

¹% of industry RPKs in 2015   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level  
*Note: the seven domestic passenger markets for which broken-down data are available account for 30% of global total RPKs and approximately 82% of total domestic RPKs

  • Brazil’s domestic market plunged by 8.3% year-on-year in March, the biggest contraction in more than 12 years.
  • Russian traffic has bounced back from its November low point following the shutdown of Transaero, while load factor soared 6.3% percentage points to 75% on a 4.8% decline in capacity.

The Bottom line

“In just under a month Dublin will become the focus of the global air transport industry, when the 72nd IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit takes place there, 1-3 June. Europe is the world’s largest international market in terms of traffic flown by its carriers. And aviation supports 12 million European jobs and 4.1% of the continent’s GDP. But aviation could do much more if governments would address the triple whammy of high taxes, overly-complex and punitive regulations, and inadequate and inefficient infrastructure. Making Europe an easier place to do business will help aviation deliver even greater benefits to the economy,” said Tyler.

View March air passenger results (pdf)

 

Freight

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released demand growth data for global air freight markets for March 2016 showing a 2.0% drop in volumes measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) compared to the same period last year. In contrast, freight capacity (measured in available freight tonne kilometers or AFTKs) rose by 6.9%, putting increased pressure on already struggling yields.

The weak results reflect subdued growth in world trade, exaggerated by the comparison to a particularly strong start to 2015 when air freight volumes were boosted by the effects of the US West Coast seaports strike. The most significant fall in demand was reported by carriers in Asia-Pacific and North America.  Combined they account for around 60% of global freight traffic and reported declines of 5.2%, and 1.8%, respectively.

"It is shaping up to be another tough year for air cargo. February 2016 world trade volumes were only 0.4% higher than at the end of 2014. And the expectations of purchasing managers gives little optimism for an early uptick. The combination of fierce competition, capacity increases and stagnant demand makes this a very difficult environment in which to generate profits," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

March 2016
(% year-on-year)

World share¹

FTK

AFTK


FLF
(%-pt)²         


FLF
(level)³   

Total Market

100%

-2.0%

6.9%

-4.0%

43.5%

Africa

1.5%

-3.1%

22.7%

-6.9%

25.9%

Asia Pacific

38.9%

-5.2%

3.8%

-5.0%

52.5%

Europe

22.3%

1.3%

7.9%

-3.0%

46.0%

Latin America

2.8%

-5.9%

2.3%

-3.2%

36.9%

Middle East

14.0%

2.4%

10.8%

-3.4%

41.0%

North America

20.5%

-1.8%

7.1%

-3.1%

34.2%

     ¹ % of industry FTKs in 2015;  ²Year-on-year change in load factor; ³Load factor level

Regional Analysis in Detail   

  • African airlines witnessed a 3.1% drop in demand in March 2016 compared to the same period last year. A more modest decline of 1.6% was seen in year-on-year Q1 performance. Notably, on the back of long-haul expansion, the AFTKs for African airlines surged by 22.6% year-on-year over the first quarter of 2016. This is more than double the pace of any other region in recent months.
  • Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 5.2% drop in demand in March 2016 compared to the same month last year. The decline is exaggerated by the effects of last year’s US seaport disruption which fueled strong demand for the region’s carriers. Nonetheless, demand is weak with export volumes from emerging Asian economies having contracted in annual terms for 11 of the past 12 months.
  • European airlines saw demand for air cargo grow by a modest 1.3% in March 2016, compared to the same period in 2015, while capacity increased by 7.9%. Weak cargo demand is a continuing story for European carriers for whom cargo volumes stand at just 1% above early 2008 levels.
  • Latin American carriers saw demand decrease by 5.9% in March 2016 versus March 2015. Volumes are now almost 15% lower that their seasonally-adjusted peak in late-2014. The hardest hit routes are those within South America, reflecting the region’s challenging economic environment, particularly in Brazil.
  • Middle Eastern carriers reported a 2.4% increase in demand over March last year—the slowest since July 2009. This reflects both a slowdown in network expansion by the region’s main carriers over the past six months and weak trading conditions. 
  • North American airlines saw demand fall by 1.8% in March 2016 versus March 2015, partially due to the rollover effect of the US port strike in 2015 which gave air freight in the region a boost. Additionally, the region’s carriers are negatively impacted by the drop in global trade while the strong US dollar is keeping exports under pressure.

View March air freight results (pdf) 

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