Saturday, June 3, 2017

Middle East air traffic soars 10.6pc in April

Middle Eastern carriers posted a 10.8 per cent traffic rise in April, compared to April 2016, while global air passenger demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose by 10.7 per cent, which was the fastest pace in six years. 

April global capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 7.1 per cent, and load factor climbed 2.7 percentage points to 82.0 per cent - a record for the month of April, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) announced . 

Middle East capacity rose 8.9 per cent and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage points to 76.5 per cent.

However, in contrast to all the other regions, the April growth rate for Middle East airlines was slower than the five-year average growth pace. Moreover, in seasonally-adjusted terms, the region’s international traffic has tracked sideways since January. 

The strong global performance is supported by a pick-up in global economic activity and lower airfares. After adjusting for inflation, the price of air travel in the first quarter was around 10 per cent lower than in the year-ago period. 

Iata estimated that falling airfares accounted for around half the demand growth in April. However, the cabin ban on the carriage of large portable electronic devices (PEDs) from 10 Middle Eastern and African airports to the US appears to have weighed down Middle East-North America passenger traffic. 

"April showed us that demand for air travel remains at very strong levels. Nevertheless there are indications that passengers are avoiding routes where the large PED ban is in place. As the US Department of Homeland Security considers expanding the ban, the need to find alternative measures to keep flying secure is critical. If the ban were extended to Europe-to-US flights, for example, we estimate a $1.4 billion hit on productivity. And an Iata-commissioned survey of business travelers indicated that 15 per cent would seek to reduce their travel in the face of a ban," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.

International Passenger Markets 

April international passenger demand rose 12.5 per cent compared to April 2016, with all regions recording double-digit year-over-year traffic increases for the first time in 12 years. Total capacity climbed 7.7 per cent, and load factor climbed 3.5 percentage points to 81.5 per cent.

Impact of the large PED ban : The route-level data from March (the most recent month available) show that RPKs flown by Middle East airlines to the US fell in year-on-year terms by 2.8 per cent for the month. This was the first annual decline recorded for this market in at least seven years. While traffic growth on the market segment already was slowing, the decline is consistent with some disruption from the PED ban that was announced on March 21, as well as a wider impact on inbound travel to the US from the Trump Administration’s proposed travel bans.

• European carriers saw demand rise 14.4 per cent in April, supported by growing momentum in the region’s economy. Comparisons with the year-ago period are distorted partly by the disruption following the series of terrorist attacks last year. That said, the April 2017 results represented the fastest year-over-year growth pace since April 2011, when comparisons were heavily impacted by the Icelandic ash cloud event in 2010 that led to the grounding of thousands of flights in Europe. Excluding this one-off event, April’s growth rate was the fastest in nearly 13 years. Capacity climbed 7.9 per cent and load factor soared 4.9 percentage points to 85.4 per cent, which was the highest among the regions. 

•  Asia-Pacific airlines’ April traffic increased 10.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period, a 14-month high. Traffic on Asia-Europe routes continues to recover from the terrorism-related slowdowns last year. Capacity rose 7.6 per cent and load factor jumped 2.4 percentage points to 80.3 per cent.

Domestic Passenger Markets        

Demand for domestic travel climbed 7.7 per cent in April compared to April 2016, while capacity increased 6.2 per cent, causing load factor to rise 1.2 percentage points to 83 per cent. All markets reported demand increases with the exception of Australia, which showed a 2.1 per cent decline. - TradeArabia News Service

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