IATA: Air travel rises 7.1% in May

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 2): International passenger demand grew 7.1% in May this year compared with May 2014, with airlines in all regions except Africa recording growth.

Total international capacity also climbed 6.7%, pushing load factor up 0.3 percentage points to 78.4%.

In a statement today, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said for both domestic and international traffic, total revenue passenger kilometers rose 6.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) in May, an improvement over the 5.7% y-o-y increase in April 2015.

"May capacity (available seat kilometers) increased by 6.5%, and load factor rose 0.3 percentage points to 79.3%," it said.

“May results confirmed that demand for connectivity remains robust, but there are possible storm clouds forming on the horizon. The financial crisis in Greece and recent weakness in regional trade activity in Asia-Pacific have the potential to dampen performance in these markets in the coming months,” said IATA director-general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler in the statement.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ May traffic jumped 9.4% compared with the year-ago period. Capacity rose 6.8% and load factor climbed 1.8 percentage points to 76%.

European carriers also saw demand increase by 5.9% in May. Capacity climbed 4.1% and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 81.6%, highest among the regions.

North American airlines’ traffic grew at 2% compared with May a year ago, which was an improvement on the April rise of 0.7% y-o-y. Capacity climbed 4.2%, while load factor fell 1.7 percentage points to 81.1%.

"Expectations for better economic performance in Q2 should support demand for air travel, but the strengthening US dollar likely will continue to place downward pressure on international leisure travel to the US," said Tyler.

Middle East carriers’ May demand, meanwhile, saw the highest growth in May at 14% over the same month in 2014. Capacity rose 19.7%, but load factor fell 3.7 percentage points to 74.6%.

African airlines’ traffic fell 3.9% in May year-to-year, most likely owing to adverse economic developments in parts of the continent, including Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, which relies heavily on oil revenues. Capacity dropped faster than demand, slipping 4.9%, with the result that load factor improved 0.7 percentage points to 64.6%.