Middle Eastern airlines posted a 1.8% traffic increase in September, which was a slowdown from a 2.9% rise in August, according to IATA’s latest passenger traffic figures.
Capacity was up just 0.2%, with load factor climbing 1.2 percentage points to 75.2%.
International traffic growth continues to be affected by a mix of structural challenges in some of the region’s large airlines, geopolitical risks and weaker business confidence in some countries. Global passenger traffic results for September showed that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) climbed 3.8% compared to the same month last year, broadly unchanged from August’s performance.
Capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 3.3%, and load factor climbed 0.4% percentage point to 81.9%, which was a record for any September.
September international passenger demand rose 3%, compared to September 2018, which was a decline from 3.6% year-over-year growth achieved in August.
All regions recorded traffic increases, led by airlines in North America. Capacity climbed 2.6%, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 81.6%.
Demand for domestic travel climbed 5.3% in September compared to September 2018, which was an improvement over the 4.7% annual growth recorded in August. Capacity rose 4.7% and load factor increased 0.5 percentage point to 82.3%.
“September marked the eighth consecutive month of below average demand growth. Given the environment of declining world trade activity and tariff wars, rising political and geopolitical tensions and a slowing global economy, it is difficult to see the trend reversing in the near term,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“These are challenging days for the global air transport industry. Pressure is coming from many directions. In a matter of weeks, four airlines in Europe went bust. Trade tensions are high and world trade is declining. The IMF recently revised down its GDP growth forecasts for 2019 to 3.0%. If correct, this would be the weakest outcome since 2009, when the world was still struggling with the Global Financial Crisis.
“At times like these, governments should recognise the power of aviation connectivity to ignite the economy and drive job creation. Instead, too many governments — in Europe in particular — are fixated on aviation as the goose that lays the golden eggs of taxes and fees. It’s the wrong approach. Aviation is the business of freedom. Governments should harness its power to drive GDP growth, not tie it down through heavy and punitive tax and regulatory regimes,” de Juniac added. Page 2
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