The terrorist attack on Brussels Airport in late March had a negative impact on global air traffic, IATA has revealed.
Releasing the industry’s performance data for April 2016, the airline association found that global demand for air travel (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPK) rose by 4.6% year-on-year – the slowest pace since January 2015. And the global average load factor, or the percentage of airline seats filled, dipped 0.3 points to 79.1%.
IATA estimated that without the impact of the Brussels attack, the monthly growth rate would have been around 5%.
“The disruptive impacts of the Brussels terror attacks will likely be short-lived,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general & CEO. “There are some longer-term clouds over the pace of demand growth. The stimulus from lower oil prices appears to be tapering off. And the global economic situation is subdued. Demand is still growing, but we may be shifting down a gear.”
Predictably, the biggest impact from the Brussels attacks was felt in Europe. International passenger demand on European carriers increased just 1.8% in April, well down on the 6.0% growth recorded in March. This reflects the fact that Brussels Airport was closed for nearly two weeks following the attack. But despite this dip,
European airlines still managed to record an average load factor of 80.2% – the highest of any region.
Passenger demand in Asia Pacific rose 6.4% in April, while in North America the growth rate was just 1.1%. The biggest gains in April were seen in the Middle East, where carriers experienced a 12.7% jump in passenger traffic.
In terms of domestic markets, traffic in India (+21.8%) and China (+9.5%) continued to climb sharply, but Brazil’s economic woes led to a 12.1% slump in passenger traffic.
Following the Brussels attacks on 22 March, IATA said that the threat of terrorism will be “high on the agenda” at its AGM, which takes places in Dublin this week.