Global and African airline market sees moderate slowdown in passenger demand growth. File picture: AP/Seth Wenig

CAPE TOWN -  The global and African airline market has experienced a moderate slowdown in passenger demand growth, the latest traffic data shows.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday released global passenger traffic data, which shows that for October this year the demand measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs climbed 3.4 percent compared to last year the same period. 

This was a modest slowdown from 3.9 percent growth recorded in September, owing to softer traffic performance in domestic markets. 

“Traffic growth continues to be depressed compared to historical long-term growth levels, reflecting continued moderating economic activity in some key markets and sagging business confidence,” IATA director general and chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac said.

“However, the fact that traffic is growing is a positive, and the industry continues to do an excellent job of maximising asset efficiency, as shown in the record load factor.”

October international passenger demand rose 3.2 percent compared to October last year, unchanged from September’s year-over-year performance. 

With the exception of Latin America, all regions recorded increases, led by Middle East airlines for the first time since June last year. Capacity climbed 1.6 percent, and load factor rose 1.3 percentage points to 81.0 percent.

Asia-Pacific airlines' October traffic increased 3.8 percent compared to the same period last year, a little below the 4.0 percent annual growth recorded in September and well down on 2018 growth largely because of weaker business confidence in a number of key markets, the impact of the US-China trade war and the recent disruptions in Hong Kong. 

European carriers saw October demand climb 2.1 percent year-to-year, down from 3.2 percent growth in September. On a seasonally-adjusted basis traffic is showing a moderate upward trend despite generally soft economic activity in some of the key markets.  

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 5.9 percent traffic increase in October, which was a sharp increase over the 1.8 percent growth seen in September and throughout the year. 

North American carriers had the second highest international demand in October, with traffic up 4.1 percent compared to October a year ago and largely in-line with a 4.3 percent annual increase in September. Growth is underpinned by a solid US economy and robust consumer spending.

Latin American airlines experienced a 0.6 percent demand drop in October compared to the same month last year. This was the weakest performance in nine years and compared to a 0.9 percent positive growth in September. 

Deteriorating economic conditions and rising social and political unrest in some of the region’s key economics likely contributed to the results. 

African airlines’ traffic climbed 1.8 percent in October, the same as in September. Economic slowdown in South Africa may have weighed on the recent moderation in demand growth. 

“The airline industry has faced strong headwinds in 2019 but continues to enable the global connectivity that supports world trade and greater understanding among peoples and cultures, things we can definitely use more of, particularly in this time of trade wars and geopolitical tension,” said de Juniac.

- African News Agency (ANA)