Middle East airlines’ passenger traffic demand up 4.2% in 2018

The passenger traffic demand for Middle East carriers, which include the three fast growing major airlines of GCC, increased 4.2 percent in 2018.

When compared to previous year passenger traffic demand growth (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), the year 2018 witnessed a relatively slower growth against 6.9 percent in 2017. It was the second year in a row of moderating demand growth, data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on annual passenger traffic results for the region show.

Capacity of Mideast carriers climbed 5.2 percent and load factor slipped 0.7 percentage point to 74.7 percent. The deceleration in growth reflects the impact of policy measures and geopolitical tensions, including travel restrictions and the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices. Traffic actually declined 0.1 percent year-on-year in December, but this may reflect volatility in data.

IATA, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of global air traffic, announced global passenger traffic results for 2018 showing that demand (RPKs) rose by a healthy 6.5 percent compared to full-year 2017. Although this represented a slowdown compared to the 2017 annual growth of 8.0 percent, it was another year of above-trend growth. Full year 2018 capacity climbed 6.1 percent, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to a record 81.9 percent, exceeding the previous high set in 2017.

December RPKs rose 5.3 percent against the same month in 2017, the slowest year-over-year pace since January 2018 and a continuation of the trend that saw demand growth decelerate to an annualised rate of 5 percent over the course of the 2018 second half compared to a 9 percent pace in the first half.

2018 was another year of strong passenger demand, as aviation continued to support the global economy. We expect similar, if somewhat moderating performance in 2019. Nevertheless, slowing growth in the second half of 2018, coupled with concerns over issues including Brexit and US-China trade tensions, are creating some uncertainty to this positive outlook, said Alexandre de Juniac (pictured), IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ 2018 traffic rose 7.3 percent, compared to 2017, driven by robust regional economic expansion and an increase in route options for travelers. Although this was a slowdown from the 10.5 percent year-over-year growth recorded in 2017 versus 2016.

European carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.6 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, which was down from 9.4 percent growth the year before.

North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full-year traffic rising 5 percent compared to 2017, an increase from 4.7 percent annual growth in 2017.

Latin American airlines’ traffic climbed 6.9 percent in 2018, a slowdown compared to 8.8 percent annual growth in 2017.

African airlines saw 2018 traffic rise 6.5 percent compared to 2017, which was an increase compared to 6 percent annual growth in 2017.

Domestic air travel climbed 7.0 percent last year, which was unchanged from the rate in 2017. All markets showed annual growth, led by India and China, which both posted double-digit annual increases. Capacity rose 6.8 percent and load factor was 83.0 percent, up 0.2 percent percentage point compared to 2017.

India’s domestic market posted the fastest full-year domestic growth rate for the fourth consecutive year, with an 18.6 percent annual demand increase. Domestic demand is underpinned by robust economic expansion and increasing numbers of city pairs.

Source: Civil Aviation Authority