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IATA reports record May passenger demand

Gran Canaria Airport © Shutterstock
Gran Canaria Airport © Shutterstock

The International Air Transport Association () has released data for global passenger demand in May 2024, highlighting significant growth. Total demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), increased by 10.7% compared to May 2023, while total capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASK), rose by 8.5% year-on-year. The load factor reached a record high for May at 83.4%, which is a 1.7 percentage point increase compared to May 2023.

International demand saw a substantial rise of 14.6% in May 2024 compared to the previous year, with capacity growing by 14.1% year-on-year. The load factor for international flights improved to 82.8%, up by 0.3 percentage points from May 2023. Meanwhile, domestic demand increased by 4.7% compared to May 2023, with capacity up slightly by 0.1% year-on-year. The domestic load factor was 84.5%, marking a 3.8 percentage point increase from May 2023.

“Strong demand for travel continues with airlines posting a 10.7% year-on-year increase in travel for May. Airlines filled 83.4% of their seats in May 2024 , a record for the month. With May ticket sales for early peak-season travel up nearly 6%, the growth trend shows no signs of abating. Airlines are doing everything they can to ensure smooth journeys for all travellers over the peak northern summer period. But our expectations of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are already being tested. With 5.2 million minutes of air traffic control delays racked up in Europe even before the peak season begins, it is clear that Europe's ANSPs have unresolved challenges. And the 32,000 delays over the Memorial Day weekend in May show that challenges persist in the US too. Airlines are accountable to their customers; ANSPs must be as well. ANSP performance matters to their airline customers and to millions of travellers. We all need them to do their job efficiently,” said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

All regions showed strong growth in international passenger markets in May 2024 compared to the same month in 2023. Asia-Pacific airlines continued to lead the way, with a 27.0% year-on-year increase in demand. Capacity in the region increased by 26.0% year-on-year, and the load factor rose to 81.6%, a 0.6 percentage point increase compared to May 2023. This performance positions Asian carriers as the largest contributors to industry-wide growth in May, accounting for 42% of the year-on-year increase.

European carriers experienced an 11.7% year-on-year increase in demand, with capacity rising by 11.3% year-on-year. The load factor for European airlines was 84.7%, up by 0.3 percentage points compared to May 2023. Middle Eastern airlines saw a 9.7% year-on-year increase in demand, with capacity increasing by 9.0% year-on-year and the load factor rising to 80.7%, a 0.5 percentage point increase compared to May 2023. Notably, Asian routes to the Middle East are now 32% higher than in 2019. Another significant development is the Europe-Middle East route, which has seen an increase in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) from April to May for two consecutive years, reversing the previous trend of decline during these months. The coming months will reveal the extent to which these trends may be related to the Russia-Ukraine war.

North carriers saw an 8.1% year-on-year increase in demand. However, capacity in the region increased by 9.7% year-on-year, resulting in a slight decline in the load factor to 84.0%, down by 1.2 percentage points compared to May 2023. Latin experienced a 15.9% year-on-year increase in demand, with capacity climbing by 14.3% year-on-year. The load factor for Latin American carriers rose to 85.1%, the highest among the regions, marking a 1.2 percentage point increase compared to May 2023.

African airlines saw a 14.1% year-on-year increase in demand, with capacity up by 8.2% year-on-year. The load factor for African carriers increased to 72.3%, a 3.7 percentage point rise compared to May 2023. This was the fastest increase in load factor among all regions, although Africa still has the lowest load factor overall.

Domestic demand increased at a stable pace in May. 's growth rate surged, in line with the post-Labour Day holidays, while Japan experienced a decline of 1.8%, possibly reflecting low business and consumer confidence.

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