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Airlines see positive start to 2019
Gatwick Airport. © London Gatwick Airport

Airlines see positive start to 2019

Led by Europe and Asia-Pacific, global passenger traffic rose 6.5% in January 2019 year-over-year — the fastest growth in six months.

Global passenger traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 6.5% in January 2019 compared to January 2018, according to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This was the fastest growth in six months, according to IATA.

January capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) rose 6.4%, and load factor inched up 0.1 percentage point to 79.6%.

International passenger demand rose 6.0% in January compared to the same month last year, which was up from a 5.3% rise in December year-over-year. All regions recorded growth, led by Europe for a fourth consecutive month. Capacity increased 5.8% and load factor climbed 0.2 percentage point to 79.8%.

European carriers' international traffic climbed 7.7% in January year-over-year, down from an 8.6% annual increase in December. This moderation is seen by IATA as reflecting uncertainty over the region's economic situation, including lack of clarity over Brexit. Capacity rose 8.8% and load factor fell 0.9 percentage point to 80.3%.

Asia-Pacific carriers recorded a demand increase of 7.1% year-over-year, solidly above the 5.0% growth in December. Capacity rose 5.1%, and load factor surged 1.5 percentage points to 81.7%, second highest among the regions.

Middle East carriers had the weakest growth, with demand up just 1.5% year-over-year. Nevertheless, this still was improved over a 0.1% drop in traffic in December. It is premature to say whether this improvement represents a trend. Capacity climbed 3.2%, bringing load factor down 1.3 percentage points to 75.6%.

North American airlines experienced a 4.7% traffic rise year-over-year, vs. a 3.7% annual rise the month before, while capacity climbed 3.5% and load factor increased 1.0 percentage point to 80.6%.

Domestic traffic climbed 7.3% in January, year-on-year, the fastest pace since August and up from 5.6% growth in December. All markets showed growth, with China, India and Russia posting double-digit annual increases.

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