News & Industry Affairs / IATA

February 2019 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis
RPK growth slows in February but load factor remains elevated


  • Annual growth in industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) eased to 5.3% in February, broadly in line with its long-run average rate of growth.
  • The load factor remains elevated, at 80.6% this month, as capacity growth continues to closely match demand. New record high load factors for the month of February were set for airlines in Asia Pacific, North America & Africa.
  • China was the fastest growing domestic market again this month with RPK growth of 11.4% year-on-year. Russia and India also posted double-digit annual growth in February.

RPK growth halves for airlines based in Africa...
Year-on-year growth in international RPKs flown by airlines based in Africa halved in February, from the solid 5.1%yoy pace in January, to a more modest 2.5% in February. Business conditions remain challenging for many airlines in the region. Over recent months, the upward trend in SA passenger traffic has generally softened with growing concerns around the economic outlook in key countries in the region.

Annual passenger growth moderates in February…
Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) slowed moderately in February, to 5.3% year-on-year. Following the brisk but short-lived uptick to 6.5% last month, the annual growth rate settled back to a rate broadly in line with the long-run average rate of growth on this occasion. The February outcome represents the slowest rate of year-on-year growth in passenger volumes in more than a year. 

     Although the steady upwards trend in the seasonally adjusted (SA) data remains in place, RPK growth has clearly slowed. Over the past six months, the annualised rate of growth is around 4.5%, a clear step-down from the almost 8% pace observed over the first half of 2018.

Economic backdrop remains less supportive

The slowdown in industry-wide RPK growth reflects a range of factors, including a softening in some of the key leading indicators, as well as concerns about the broader global economic outlook. 

    The global composite Purchasing Managers’ Index ticked up this month, however the bigger picture is that business confidence has been trending downwards since around the middle of 2018. Download the full document here. 

Back to IATA news >