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March 2019 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis
Upward trend remains in place despite slowing RPK growth
Highlights of the March 2019 Air Passenger Market Analysis
- Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) grew by a moderate 3.1% year-on-year in March – the softest growth outcome in 9 years. However, this month’s result has been influenced by the earlier timing of Easter last year which boosted demand in March 2018.
- With capacity outpacing demand over the past year, the passenger load factor is down 0.9 percentage points from its record March high of last year, but remains elevated at 81.7%.
- RPK growth dipped sharply in domestic India to 3.1% year-on-year, amidst operational disruptions for Jet Airways. China also recorded a slowdown, although the outcome more reflected developments of a year ago.
Passenger growth eased in Africa...
Airlines based in Africa posted RPK growth of ~2% in year-on-year terms in March. Although SA volumes picked-up for African carriers this month, the key takeaway remains that the upward trend has softened since mid-2018 amidst falling business confidence in some of the key economies in the region.
RPK growth well below 5-year average…
Annual growth in industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) eased to 3.1%, down from 5.1% in February. This was the weakest annual growth outcome since early-2010 and well below the fiveyear average growth rate (7.0%).
Having said that, this month’s result was impacted by the earlier timing of the 2018 Easter holiday period, which boosted demand in March last year.
…but the solid upward trend remains in place
Putting aside the monthly volatility, in seasonally adjusted (SA) terms, the solid upward trend in passenger volumes remains in place.
The underlying growth rate has been relatively steady at a 4.1% annualized pace since October; a solid outcome, but a clear slowing from the very strong 8.6% pace of the same period a year ago.
Economic backdrop remains less supportive
The moderation in industry-wide RPK growth over the
past year or so has come alongside a softening in
some of the key indicators and concerns about the
broader global economic outlook.
The global composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) – a very good leading indicator of RPK growth in the past – remains well below its level of 2017 and 2018, despite a modest pick-up this month...Download the full document here.