Passenger demand for 2017 rose 7.6 per cent compared to 2016, the International Air Transport Association stated in its year-end report, a figure described as “well above” the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.
While the rate of demand growth slowed to 6.2 per cent in December 2017 compared to December 2016, this largely was owing to less favorable comparisons to the even stronger growth trend seen in the year-ago period. Full year 2017 capacity rose 6.3 per cent, and load factor climbed 0.9 percentage point to a record calendar-year high of 81.4 per cent.
"2017 got off to a very strong start and largely stayed that way throughout the year, sustained by a broad-based pick-up in economic conditions. While the underlying economic outlook remains supportive in 2018, rising cost inputs, most notably fuel, suggest we are unlikely to see the same degree of demand stimulation from lower fares that occurred in the first part of 2017," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
2017 international passenger traffic soared 7.9 per cent compared to 2016. Capacity rose 6.4% and load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 80.6 per cent. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand, led by the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions.
North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full year traffic rising 4.8 per cent compared to 2016. Capacity climbed 4.5 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 81.7 per cent. According to IATA, “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.”
Domestic air travel climbed seven per cent last year. All markets showed annual growth led by India, China, and Russia, albeit with wide variation. Capacity increased 6.2 per cent and load factor was 83 per cent, up 0.7 per cent percentage point compared to 2016.