The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the global passenger traffic results for May 2019 showing that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 4.5 percent compared to the same month in 2018. This was in line with the revised April traffic growth of 4.4 percent and above the recent trough of 3.1 percent year-on-year growth recorded in March. However, it remains below the 20-year average growth rate of around 5.5 percent. Capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) climbed by a modest 2.7 percent and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 81.5 percent, surpassing last year’s record load factor of 80.1 percent.

“Passenger demand growth has slowed compared to the past two years. This is in line with slumping global trade, rising trade tensions and weakening business confidence. In this challenging environment, airlines are managing capacity carefully in order to optimize efficiency,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

International traffic demand rose 4.3 percent in May 2019 over the year-ago period, which was down from 5.1 percent growth in April. All regions recorded growth, led by airlines in Latin America. Total capacity climbed 2.1 percent, with load factor jumping 1.7 percentage points to 80.4 percent.

Domestic traffic increased 4.8 percent in May 2019 compared to May 2018, well above the 3 percent year-over-year rise recorded in April. Russia was the only market to see double-digit demand growth. Domestic capacity rose 3.8 percent and load factor climbed 0.8 percentage point to 83.4 percent.

With regards to recent airspace closures, de Juniac comments: “Aviation is the business of freedom, connecting people and trade and creating new opportunities for growth and development. But to be effective, the business of freedom relies on borders that are open to the movement of people and goods – and aircraft. In recent weeks, we have seen extensive airspace closures owing to political tensions. These closures have contributed to longer and less efficient routings, higher operating costs and increased carbon emissions. Without any compromise on safety, it is vital that governments work to minimize airspace closures so that the Business of Freedom can continue to deliver its benefits as efficiently as possible.”

View the May 2019 Passenger Traffic Analysis below: