Rise in passenger demand among African airlines

Cape Town - African airlines experienced an 8.2% rise in demand in November 2016 compared to November 2015, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday.

Iata pointed out that economic conditions in much of Africa remain challenging, particularly in South Africa and Nigeria.

"The upward trend in seasonally-adjusted passenger traffic has, however, reasserted itself more recently, supported by strong demand on routes to and from Asia and the Middle East," it said in a statement.

Among African airlines capacity rose 5.1% and load factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 66.3%.

In November African carriers posted the largest increase in freight demand among the global regions - 10.9% year-on-year - and the seasonally-adjusted growth remains strong, according to Iata.

"However, capacity surged by 26.9% on the back of long-haul expansion, particularly by Ethiopian Airlines, and this caused the freight load factor to fall in annual terms for the 19th consecutive month," Iata added.

READ: African aviation warms to carbon reduction – Iata

Global picture

As for the global airline industry as a whole, Iata said passenger traffic results for November 2016 showed the strongest demand growth in nine months.

Total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 7.6% compared to November 2015. Capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 6.5%, and load factor rose 0.8 percentage points to 78.9%.
 
"Stronger demand for air travel reflects — and is supporting - a pick-up in the global economic cycle. As the stimulus effect of lower oil prices recedes in the rear view mirror, the strength of the economic cycle will play a key role in the pace of demand growth in 2017," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.

"The airline industry continues to deliver strong results. In 2017, for a third consecutive year, the industry’s return on invested capital will exceed the cost of capital. Passengers benefit from the industry’s success."

At the same time he cautioned that uncertainty lies ahead.

"The threat of terrorism, questions over the durability of the economic upswing, rising oil prices and increasing protectionist rhetoric are among the concerns. The industry has reshaped itself and strengthened its resilience to shocks. We should see another solid year of collective profitability for the airlines in 2017. But we must be vigilant," said de Juniac. 

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