IATA: Lunar New Year travel adds to strong traffic growth in February


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for February showing a strengthening in demand growth compared to February 2014. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.2%, which was an improvement on the January year-over-year increase of 4.5%. Monthly results were positively impacted by the Lunar New Year holiday which occurred in February this year, one month later than in 2014. February capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.6%, and load factor rose 0.5 percentage points to 78.5%.

Lunar New Year celebrations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, certainly contributed to the robust February performance, but it is also clear that solid demand for connectivity is offsetting economic weakness in some regions including the Eurozone,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Feb 2015 vs. Feb 2014RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
Total Market6.2%5.6%78.5
YTD 2015 vs. YTD 2014RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
Total Market5.3%5.3%78.1

International Passenger Markets

February international passenger demand rose 6.8% compared to the same month last year, with airlines in all regions except Africa recording growth. Capacity climbed 5.7% and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 77.4%.

  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic surged 10.4% compared to the year-ago period. Although the strong results reflect leisure traffic around the Lunar New Year, the underlying trend in volumes confirms robust expansion in air travel. Capacity rose 8.2% and load factor climbed 1.6 percentage points to 78.2%.
  • European carriers saw demand increase by 4.8% in February versus February 2014. Despite feeble economic expansion in the Eurozone, some carriers including those in Turkey, continued to report strong growth. Capacity climbed 3.4% and load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 78.3%.
  • North American airlines experienced a 3.5% rise in traffic compared to February a year ago, which was above the 3.1% expansion in 2014 overall. The US economy remains a stand-out performer among developed economies. Capacity rose 2.3% and load factor was 76.8%, up 0.9 percentage points over a year ago.
  • Middle East carriers’ demand climbed 8.7% in February. Economies in the region are comparatively well placed to withstand the plunge in oil revenues and regionally-based carriers continue to gain market-share. Capacity climbed 11.0%, causing load factor to fall 1.6 percentage points to 77.2%.
  • Latin American airlines experienced a 7.4% rise in traffic compared to February 2014. Capacity rose 6.5% and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 79.7%, highest among the regions. Growth in the Brazilian economy has stagnated but regional trade volumes have continued to improve.
  • African airlines’ traffic fell 2.0% in February year-to-year, while ASKs slipped 1.7%, resulting in a 0.2 percentage point dip in load factor to 63.5%, which was the lowest for any region. The results most likely reflect adverse economic developments in parts of the continent, including Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, which relies heavily on oil revenues.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand rose 5.3% in February compared to February 2014, with the strongest growth occurring in India and Brazil, followed by China, which benefitted from Lunar New Year-related travel. Total domestic capacity also was up 5.3%, and load factor was unchanged at 80.4%.

Feb 2015 vs. Feb 2014RPK GrowthASK GrowthPLF
China P.R.8.4%11.7%82.9
Russian Federation1.3%-0.5%68.6
  • India’s domestic demand soared 14.8% in February compared to a year ago. Market demand began to improve in the latter part of 2014, partly owing to market stimulation, and that has continued in 2015.
  • Brazilian domestic traffic climbed 9.2% year-over-year. This is attributable in part to the fact that Carnival celebrations fell entirely in February in 2015, whereas in 2014 the holiday overlapped in March.

The Bottom Line:

The millions of people who traveled for Lunar New Year remind us of the vital role that aviation plays in connecting our world. On an average day some nine million people travel on 100,000 flights. Doing that safely is the industry’s top priority. Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel over the Germanwings tragedy. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those onboard the aircraft. The best tribute that we can pay them is to make flying even safer. While the criminal investigation has come to some conclusions, a thorough air accident investigation is imperative to help guide the industry forward,” said Tyler.

View February passenger traffic results (pdf)

IATA Press Release No. 14, Geneva 2 April 2015


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