News & Industry Affairs / IATA

December 2019 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis
Below-trend but still solid air passenger growth in 2019


  • Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) expanded by 4.2% in 2019. This marks the first year since the Global Financial Crisis with passenger demand below long-term trend (~5.5%).
  • The 2019 air travel demand outcome was impacted by a softer (but still supportive) global economic backdrop and weaker business confidence amidst international trade tensions.
  • Capacity expanded by 3.4% in 2019 as a whole, a slower pace compared to that of demand. As a result, the industrywide passenger load factor reached a new record high of 82.6%.

African carriers posted the fastest RPK growth
International RPKs for African carriers rose by 5.1% y-o-y in December – a pace broadly in line with the expansion in 2019 as a whole. Airlines in the region benefited from a generally supportive economic backdrop in 2019 – including improved stability in a number of countries – as well as increases in air transport connectivity.

Passenger demand below trend in 2019
Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) ended the year on a positive note, rising by 4.5% yearon-year, up from 3.3% in November, primarily on the back of a solid performance from the North American carriers. The underlying seasonally adjusted (SA) traffic data also ticked up – disrupting more moderate upward trend that emerged since Q2 2018.
    Despite the improvement this month, the bigger picture remains that air passenger demand growth softened in 2019. Indeed, RPKs increased by 4.2% - down from 7.3% annual growth observed in 2018, and below the long-term growth trend (~5.5%) for the first year since the Global Financial Crisis.

Key drivers less supportive of RPK growth in 2019
The moderation came against a backdrop of slowing momentum in the global economy, declining world.
    trade activity and various political and geopolitical tensions across the regions. In addition, business confidence also weakened across a number of key developed and emerging markets.
    All regions contributed to the industry-wide slowdown in growth, as a result, regional RPK shares remained broadly unchanged in 2019 versus 2018. Airlines based in Asia Pacific and Europe (regions with the largest RPK share) were the main drivers behind the softer industry-wide outcome with their contribution to growth falling by 1.5ppts and 0.9ppts, respectively in 2019...Download the full document here. 

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