“Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before,” says IATA

MONTREAL — Global air connectivity is more accessible than ever, says IATA, which just released performance figures for 2018.

According to its report, 4.4 billion passengers flew in 2018, an increase of 6.9% over 2017, and record efficiency was achieved with 81.9% of available seats being filled. Fuel efficiency, meanwhile, improved by more than 12% compared to 2010.

The world continues to shrink thanks to increased connectivity. A total of 22,000 city pairs are now connected by direct flights, up 1,300 over 2017 and double the 10,250 city pairs connected in 1998.

“Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before. The freedom to fly is more accessible than ever, and our world is a more prosperous place as a result,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

However, de Juniac notes that with any human activity, this comes with an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing.

“We understand that sustainability is essential to our licence to spread aviation’s benefits. From 2020 we will cap net carbon emissions growth, and by 2050 we will cut our net carbon footprint to half 2005 levels,” he added. “This ambitious climate action goal needs government support. It is critical for sustainable aviation fuels, new technology and more efficient routes to deliver the greener future we are aiming for.”

Here are additional highlights of the 2018 airline industry performance:

• The development of the low-cost carrier (LCC) segment continues to outpace that of network carriers. Measured in ASKs (available seat kilometres), LCC capacity grew by 13.4%, almost doubling the overall industry rate of 6.9%. LCCs accounted for 21% of global capacity in 2018, up from 11% in 2004.

• Some 52 of IATA’s 290 current member airlines classify themselves as LCCs and other new model airlines.

• Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region once again carried the largest number of passengers system-wide. North America airlines had 22.6% market share, or 989.4 million passengers, up 4.8% over 2017.

• The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometres flown were: American Airlines (330.6 billion); Delta Air Lines (330 billion); United Airlines (329.6 billion); Emirates (302.3 billion); and Southwest Airlines (214.6 billion).

• The top five nationalities travelling (international routes) are: United Kingdom (126.2 million, or 8.6% of all passengers); United States (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers); China (97 million, or 6.6% of all passengers); Germany (94.3 million, or 6.4% of all passengers); and France (59.8 million, or 4.1% of all passengers).

• Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2018, with 21.9% of total scheduled traffic (in RPKs), followed by SkyTeam (18.8%) and oneworld (15.4%).