GENEVA — Global passenger traffic hit a five-year peak in January, with new data from IATA showing demand rose 9.6% compared to the same month in 2016.
The results reference the Lunar New Year celebrations, which occurred in January, as a driving force behind demand. IATA also estimates the holiday-related travel contributed up to one-half a percentage point in extra demand growth. January capacity rose 8.0% and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 80.2%.
“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011. This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
January international passenger traffic surged 9.3% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 7.5% and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage point to 80.3%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand led by the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Leading the charge were Middle East carriers, which had the strongest year-over-year demand growth in January at 14.4%. Asia Pacific carriers followed closely behind with an increase of 10.9% compared to January 2016, while European carriers’ international traffic climbed 8.3%.
North American airlines, however, had the slowest demand growth, with traffic rising 3.2% in January compared to a year ago. Capacity climbed 3.1% and load factor was flat at 80.3%. Traffic on the transpacific market has continued to trend upwards but North Atlantic traffic growth has weakened since the middle of 2016, reflecting softer demand on UK-US routes.
Domestic air travel climbed 9.9% in January year-on-year, with all markets except Brazil showing growth. Double-digit increases were recorded in China, India and Russia.