News & Industry Affairs/IATA news

May 2018 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis
Another month of solid RPK growth and a record load factor


Another month of solid annual RPK growth…
Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) grew by 6.1% year-on-year in May, up very slightly from 6.0% in April. RPKs fell by 0.5% in seasonally adjusted (SA) terms relative to April, which was the largest fall on this basis since November 2015. However, it is worth noting that this followed a 0.7% increase in April and may simply be ‘noise’ (eg, the fall is within the range of historical variation seen in the series). We will monitor closely in the coming months and expect to see May’s fall to be reversed coming into the forthcoming peak period for passenger demand.


…although growth has moderated in 2018 so far

We continue to expect 2018 to be another year of above-trend growth for industry-wide RPKs. However, as we have argued before, we expect to see a moderate slowdown in full-year RPK growth relative to that seen last year. Note that annual RPK growth has already slowed over the first five months of this year relative to that seen in the same period of 2017 (to 6.8% so far this year to date, compared to 8.3% a year ago) and is currently just below its five-year average pace (6.9%).


Moderation in African passenger traffic growth
Annual growth in international RPKs flown by African airlines slowed to an eight-month low of 3.8% in May, down from 5.7% in April and below its five-year average pace for just the second time in 23 months (4.8%). The upward SA demand trend remains reasonably strong, but mixed signs are again emerging in the continent’s two largest economies; higher oil prices are helping to bolster economic activity in Nigeria, but business confidence in South Africa has weakened again.


Highlights of the May 2018 Air Passenger Market Analysis

  • Industry-wide revenue passenger kilometres increased by 6.1% year-on-year in May – a slight pick-up from 6.0% in April. This helped to lift the passenger load factor above 80% for the first time ever in the month of May (80.1%).
  • Reduced stimulus from lower airfares and a more mixed economic backdrop are expected to see RPK growth slow slightly in calendar-year 2018 relative to that seen last year. Nonetheless, the key point is that we continue to expect 2018 to be another year of above-trend passenger growth.
  • Carriers based in Asia Pacific once again posted the fastest international RPK growth rate, while annual growth in domestic India RPKs remained in double-digit territory for the 45th month in a row. Download the full document here. 

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