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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for April showing a healthy increase in demand. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 7.5% compared to April 2013, an improvement over March growth of 2.9%.

The year-on-year comparison is somewhat biased by the timing of the Easter holiday, which occurred in April 2014, a month later than in 2013. April capacity increased 5.8%, propelling load factor up 1.2 percentage points to 79.4 %.

“April’s demand growth was a pleasant surprise in the face of the moderating trend of recent months but it is not clear whether the acceleration in demand is sustainable in view of global economic trends including slower growth in China,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

April international passenger demand was up 8.5% compared to the year-ago period with airlines in all regions recording growth and the strongest gains among Middle East carriers. Capacity rose 6.9% and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 79.0%.

Asia-Pacific carriers’ traffic rose 6.7% compared to the year-ago period but capacity rose 7.7% and load factor slipped 0.7 percentage points to 75.7%.

European carriers saw demand climb 7.9% in April versus April 2013.  Capacity rose 5.4% and load factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 81.4%, the highest for any region.

North American airlines experienced a 4.9% rise in traffic compared to April a year ago. Capacity rose 3.3% pushing load factor up 1.2 percentage points to 80.8%.

Middle East carriers’ demand soared 18.6% in April, easily the strongest growth for any region. Capacity climbed 13.1% and load factor jumped 3.8 percentage points to 80.8%.

Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 8.2% compared to April 2013. Capacity rose 5.2% and load factor climbed 2.2 percentage points to 79.1%.

African airlines had the weakest demand growth, with traffic up 3.9% compared to April 2013, while capacity rose 8.1%, resulting in a 2.7 percentage point drop in load factor to 66.2%, the lowest load factor for any region.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand rose 5.8% in April compared to April 2013, with the strongest growth occurring in Brazil, China and Russia. Total domestic capacity was up 3.9%, and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 80.2%.

The Bottom Line:

“In just a few days, the world air transport community will gather in Doha, Qatar for the 70th IATA Annual General Meeting. The strong demand for air travel recorded in April reinforces aviation’s importance as an enabler of global economic growth and job creation, while the slowdown in Japan’s demand growth illustrates the sensitivity of the sector—and the economic benefits that it provides—to taxes. All those visiting the Gulf for the AGM will have a unique opportunity to see the potential for aviation to drive development when in a business-friendly environment and with the right infrastructure,” Tyler said.

Source: IATA