African airlines record passenger growth, amid drop in Europe

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

Notwithstanding the current economic realities in Nigeria and other African countries, the aviation sector on the continent has recorded growth in passenger patronage, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

IATA, in a global passenger traffic data for April released yesterday, African airlines’ traffic has risen by 9.9 per cent in April.

Capacity rose 11.1 per cent, with the result that load factor slipped 0.7 percentage points to 66.3 per cent, lowest among regions. The continued turnaround of the carriers coincides with expansion of long-haul networks by the region’s airlines.

Globally, demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose by 4.6 per cent—the slowest pace since January 2015. April capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 4.9 per cent, and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 79.1 per cent.

IATA observed that the disruptive impact of the Brussels Airport attack weighed on the April figures. The association estimates that, absent the impact of the attacks, demand growth would have been around five per cent.

IATA’s Director General, Tony Tyler stated that the disruptive impacts of the Brussels terror attacks likely will be short-lived.

“There are some longer-term clouds over the pace of demand growth. The stimulus from lower oil prices appears to be tapering off. And the global economic situation is subdued. Demand is still growing, but we may be shifting down a gear,” Tyler said.

April international passenger demand rose by 4.8 per cent compared to April 2015, the slowest pace in two years. Airlines in all regions recorded growth, led by the Middle East region. Total capacity was up by 5.6 per cent, causing load factor to slip 0.6 percentage points to 77.8 per cent.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ April traffic increased 6.4 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Slower economic growth in many of the region’s economies has been at least partly offset by an increase in direct airport connections that has helped to stimulate demand. Capacity rose 6.8 per cent and load factor dipped 0.3 percentage points to 77.3 per cent.

European carriers saw demand rise just 1.8 per cent in April, which was well down on the 6.0 per cent growth recorded in March.

“This reflects the impact of the Brussels terror attacks, which closed the airport for nearly two weeks. Capacity climbed 2.4 per cent and load factor slipped 0.5 per cent percentage points to 80.2 per cent, which still was the highest among the regions,” the report read in part.

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