IATA reports that March 2019 traffic results showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 3.1%, compared to the same month a year ago, which was the slowest pace for any month in nine years.
Those results are due largely 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 kilometers or ASKs) for the month of March grew 4.2% and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7%.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, noted that: “While traffic growth slowed considerably in March, we do not see the month as a bellwether for the rest of 2019. Nevertheless, the economic backdrop has become somewhat less favorable, with the IMF having recently revised its GDP outlook downward for a fourth time in the past year.”
However IATA notes that despite March’s slowdown, the outlook for air travel remains solid. Global connectivity has never been better. Consumers can choose from more than 21,000 city pair combinations on more than 125,000 daily flights. And airfares continue to decline in real terms.