By Sarah Townsend
But demand growth continues to lag behind capacity, says IATA
Middle East carriers recorded an 11.8 percent increase in air passenger demand in May, the largest year-on-year increase of all global regions, according to research.
The latest global passenger traffic figures from industry body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that Middle Eastern airlines saw the fastest annual growth in demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs).
The region’s 11.8 percent year-on-year rise in May was substantially higher than the overall figure for all regions, which was 4.6 percent compared to the same month in 2015.
However, Middle East carriers saw capacity increase by 15.6 percent year-on-year – compared to 5.5 percent globally – meaning growth in capacity has exceeded traffic growth in 18 of the previous 20 months, according to IATA.
Meanwhile, load factor dropped 2.4 percentage points to 71.9 percent, however, the steepest fall of all regions. Across the rest of the world, load factor fell 0.7 percentage points to 78.7 percent, while demand for domestic traffic rose 5.1 percent, outpacing international demand growth of 4.3 percent.
IATA noted that the Middle East had seen “solid gains” during the first five months of 2016. It added there remains little sign of any easing in the upward trend in passenger capacity, it added – annual growth in RPKs continues to lag behind capacity.
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director-general and CEO, said: “After a very strong start to the year, demand growth is slipping back toward more historic levels [across the world].
“A combination of factors was likely behind this more moderated pace of demand growth. These include continuing terrorist activity and the fragile state of the global economy. Neither bode well for travel demand, and the shocks of [the suicide bombings in] Istanbul and the economic fallout of the Brexit vote make it difficult to see an early uptick.”
Tyler added: “Aviation plays a vital role in supporting economic growth and development. As the post-Brexit regulatory framework is negotiated between the EU and the UK it is critical that there are no steps backward for aviation connectivity.”