In another strong annual showing, the world’s airlines saw demand in terms of revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rise 6.3 per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year – and ahead of the ten-year average of 5.5 per cent – while average load factor reached a record high of 80.5 per cent, according to IATA.
International passenger traffic rose 6.7 per cent in 2016 from 2015. Capacity rose 6.9 per cent and load factor fell 0.2 percentage points to 79.6 per cent. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand.
The Middle East tops again the regional list with an 11.6 percent increase in RPKs, while Asia-Pacific comes in second with a demand increase of 8.3 per cent, ahead of Europe in third place with 10.7 per cent increase.
Meanwhile, domestic air travel rose 5.7 per cent globally led by India and China among the major markets, which saw RPK expand 23.3 per cent and 11.7 per cent respectively.
According to an IATA statement, these markets have been underpinned by additional routes and increasing flight frequencies, with the latter looking set to continue in 2017.
“Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a US$44 fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible. As a result, a record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination. Demand for air travel is still expanding,” commented Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Amid expanding air travel demand, the IATA chief also called on governments to "to meet that demand with infrastructure that can accommodate the growth, regulation that facilitates growth and taxes that don’t choke growth" for the aviation industry to create more jobs and prosperity.
At the same time, he also warns governments to balance freedom to travel and security. “Our freedom to connect through air travel drives prosperity and enriches societies... Aviation is the business of freedom. And we must defend its social and economic benefits from barriers to travel and protectionist agendas,” said de Juniac.