The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced full-year global passenger traffic results for 2016 showing that demand — as measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) — rose 6.3% compared to 2015 (or 6.0% if adjusted for the leap year).
This result is well ahead of the ten-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%. Capacity rose 6.2% (unadjusted) compared to 2015, pushing the load factor up 0.1 percentage points to a record full-year average high of 80.5%.
Performance in December was particularly strong, with an 8.8% rise in demand outstripping 6.6% capacity growth.
International passenger traffic rose 6.7% in 2016 compared to 2015. Capacity rose 6.9% and load factor fell 0.2 percentage points to 79.6%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand.
Middle East carriers had the strongest regional annual traffic growth for the fifth year in a row. RPKs expanded 11.8%, consolidating the region’s position as the third-largest market for international passengers.
Asia Pacific carriers recorded a demand increase of 8.3%, while Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 7.4%. African airlines had their best growth performance since 2012, up 7.4%.
European carriers’ international traffic climbed 4.8% in 2016, thanks to a strong improvement in the second half of the year—passenger volumes have been increasing at an average of 15% year-over-year since June, more than compensating for a slight decline over the first six months of 2016.
North American airlines saw demand rise 2.6% in 2016. Most of the growth occurred in the second quarter, and traffic has been strongest on Pacific routes.
On the domestic side, IATA reports global growth of 5.7% in 2016, dominated by India and China, with RPK expansion of 23.3% and 11.7% respectively.