Total revenue passenger kilometres (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 kilometres 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.
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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%.
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%.
By comparison, 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%.
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%
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“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.