The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports global passenger traffic results for January show demand (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose 9.6% compared to January 2016, the strongest increase in more than five years.
Results were positively affected by traffic associated with the Lunar New Year celebrations, which occurred in January this year, compared to February in 2016. IATA estimates the holiday-related travel contributed up to one-half a percentage point in extra demand growth. January capacity rose 8%, and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 80.2%.
“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011. This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.
North American airlines had the slowest demand growth, with traffic rising 3.2% in January, compared to a year ago. Capacity climbed 3.1%, and load factor was flat at 80.3%. Traffic on the transpacific market has continued to trend upwards, but North Atlantic traffic growth has weakened since the middle of 2016, reflecting softer demand on UK-US routes.
“Aviation is the business of freedom. Air travel liberates people to lead better lives and creates greater economic opportunity for all by bringing people closer to trade and markets,” added de Juniac. “Governments have a responsibility to secure their borders. They must also preserve the enormous economic and social benefits provided by borders that are open to trade and travel.”