Middle East carriers had the strongest annual traffic growth at 13.0 per cent, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced in its global passenger traffic results for the full year of 2014.
The region’s economies continue to show robust growth in non-oil sectors, and are therefore well-placed to withstand the plunge in oil revenues. Capacity rose 11.9 per cent and load factor climbed 0.8 per centage points to 78.1 per cent, it added. Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 5.9 per cent for 2014 compared to 2013, the IATAsaid. This 2014 performance was above the 10-year average growth rate of 5.6 per cent and the 5.2 per cent annual growth experienced in 2013 compared to 2012.
Capacity rose 5.6 per cent last year, with the result that load factor climbed 0.2 percentage points to 79.7 per cent. All regions saw demand grow in 2014, the report said.More than half of the growth in passenger travel occurred on airlines in emerging markets including Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. In recent months domestic market growth played a large role in driving growth. This is owed mainly to a pick-up in Chinese domestic travel which expanded by some 11 per cent in 2014 over the previous year.
“Demand for the passenger business did well in 2014. With a 5.9 per cent expansion of demand, the industry out-performed the 10-year average growth rate. Carriers in the Middle East posted double-digit growth while results in Africa were barely above previous-year levels. Overall a record 3.3 billion passengers boarded aircraft last year—some 170 million more than in 2013,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“While it is clear that people will continue to travel in growing numbers, there have been signs in recent months that softening business confidence is translating into a leveling off of international travel demand,” he added. While international passenger traffic rose 6.1 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013, the capacity rose 6.4 per cent and load factor slipped 0.1 percentage points to 79.2 per cent.
Asia Pacific carriers recorded an increase of 5.8 per cent compared to 2013, which was the largest increase among the three biggest regions. However, traffic has been broadly flat over the past four months or so amid signs of a slowdown in regional production activity, although trade volumes have remained strong. Capacity rose 7.0 per cent, pushing down load factor 1.1 percentage points to 76.9 per cent.
European carriers’ international traffic climbed 5.7 per cent in 2014. Capacity rose 5.2 per cent and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points 81.6 per cent. Robust travel on low fare airlines as well as airlines registered in Turkey offset economic weakness and risks in the region.
Meanwhile, African airlines experienced the slowest annual demand growth, up 0.9 per cent compared to 2013. With capacity up 3.0 per cent, load factor fell 1.5 per centage points to 67.5 per cent, the lowest among the regions.
The weakness in international air travel for regional carriers is not believed to be attributable to the Ebola outbreak, the impact of which has been restricted largely to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, markets that comprise a very small proportion of traffic. Instead it appears to reflect negative economic developments in parts of the continent including Nigeria, which is highly reliant on oil revenues. South Africa also experienced weakness earlier in the year.