Asia-Pacific Carriers Leads Global Aviation Growth Through 2017

Asia-Pacific airlines outperformed rivals in a strong year for aviation, posting annual international traffic demand growth of 9.4% through 2017 against the global average of 7.9% according to IATA research. Overall international aircraft capacity rose 6.4% while load factor climbed 1.1% to 80.6%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand. Latin America was also particularly strong with 9.3% international passenger growth.

Full International Passenger Summary for 2017 from IATA

  • Asia-Pacific carriers posted annual demand growth of 9.4%, compared to 2016, driven by robust regional economic expansion and an increase in route options for travelers. This was the first time since 1994 that Asia-Pacific led all the regions in annual growth rate. Capacity rose 7.9%, and load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 79.6%.
  • European carriers’ international traffic climbed 8.2% in 2017 compared to the previous year, underpinned by buoyant economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 6.1% and load factor surged 1.6 percentage points to 84.4%, which was the highest for any region.
  • Middle East carriers’ traffic increased 6.6% last year. The region was the only one to see a slowdown in annual growth compared to 2016, and the region’s share of global traffic (9.5%) fell for the first time in 20 years. The market segment to/from North America was hit the hardest owing to factors including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices in the aircraft cabin as well as the proposed US travel bans affecting some countries in the region. Capacity climbed 6.4% and load factor rose 0.1 percentage point to 74.7%.
  • North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full year traffic rising 4.8% compared to 2016. Capacity climbed 4.5%, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 81.7%. The comparatively robust economic backdrop supported outbound passenger demand. This was somewhat offset by a slowdown in inbound travel partly attributable to the new immigration and security restrictions put in place for travel to the US, as well as the extreme weather events that hit the US later in the year.
  • Latin American airlines’ traffic climbed 9.3% in 2017, the fastest rate since 2011. However, the upward trend weakened towards the end of the year, partly owing to disruption caused by the severe 2017 hurricane season that also hurt travel to the US. Capacity rose 8.0% and load factor increased 1.0 percentage point to 82.1%, second highest among the regions.
  • African airlines saw 2017 traffic rise 7.5% compared to 2016. Capacity rose at less than half the rate of demand (3.6%), and load factor jumped 2.5 percentage points to 70.3%. While indicators in South Africa are consistent with falling economic output, Nigeria has returned to growth, helped by the recent rise in oil prices.
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