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African airlines record an increased 2.1% in passenger demand for March

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March 2019 showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) rose 3.1%, compared to the same month a year ago, which was the slowest pace for any month in nine years.

This largely was owing to the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell nearly a month later than in 2018. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the underlying growth rate has been relatively steady since October 2018 at a 4.1% annualized pace. Capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) for the month of March grew 4.2% and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7%.

African airlines’ demand increased 2.1% compared to March 2018, down from a 2.5% rise in February. Capacity climbed 1.1%, and load factor strengthened 0.7 percentage point to 71.4%. The upward traffic trend has softened since mid-2018 in line with falling business confidence in some of the region’s key economies.

March international passenger demand rose just 2.5% compared to March 2018, which was down from 4.5% year-over-year growth recorded in February and almost 5 percentage points below its five-year average pace. All regions showed growth with the exception of the Middle East. Total capacity climbed 4.0%, and load factor fell 1.2 percentage points to 80.8%.

  •  European carriers saw March demand increase 4.7% over March 2018, down from 7.5% annual growth in February. The result partly reflects falling business confidence in the Eurozone and ongoing uncertainty about Brexit. March capacity rose 5.4% and load factor slid 0.6 percentage point to 84.2%, which still was the highest among regions.
  •  Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic climbed 2.0% in March, compared to the year-ago period, which was down from 4% growth in February. However, results were stronger on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity increased 4.0%, and load factor dropped 1.6 percentage points to 80.1%.
  •  Middle East carriers’ passenger demand fell 3.0% in March, marking a second consecutive month of declining traffic. This reflects the broader structural changes in the industry which have been taking place in the region. Capacity increased 2.3%, and load factor plunged 4.0 percentage points to 73.8%.
  •  North American airlines posted a 3.0% traffic rise in March compared to the year-ago period, which was down somewhat from 4.2% year-on-year growth in February. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, traffic has been trending strongly upwards, however. Capacity climbed 2.6% and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 83.7%.
  •  Latin American airlines had the fastest traffic growth at 5.5%, compared to a year ago, up from 4.6% in February. March capacity rose 5.8%, and load factor dipped 0.2 percentage point to 81.9%. Latin America was the only region to show an increase in the year-on-year growth rate for March compared to February. In seasonally-adjusted terms traffic continues to trend upward sharply, notwithstanding economic and political uncertainty in some key countries.
Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Phillips joined the team in 2016. She developed a passion and love for all things-travel related in her role as travel journalist, a position she held for over seven years. A brief exodus into the corporate marketing sphere proved that there is no better industry than the travel industry. Research and writing are two of Jeanette’s greatest passions, but she is always open to new challenges and different ways of doing things.

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