[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March 2019 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.
This largely was owing 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%.
“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Despite March’s passenger demand 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 air fares continue to decline in real terms.
Aviation is truly the Business Freedom for the more than 12.5 million passengers who will board flights each day. But it also remains extremely challenging, as the recent failures of Jet Airways and WOW Air illustrate.
Airlines compete intensely with one another, but they also cooperate in areas such as safety, security, infrastructure and the environment, to ensure that aviation can accommodate a forecast doubling in demand by 2037. Next month, leaders of the industry will gather in Seoul for the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit where all of these items will be high on the agenda.”