The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for January 2024 global passenger demand indicating a strong start for the year. Total demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), increased by 16.6 percent. Total capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASK), increased by 14.1 percent. The load factor was 79.9 percent, which is an increase of 1.7 percentage points.

International demand went up by 20.8 percent, capacity increased by 20.9 percent, and the load factor remained at 79.7 percent, showing no change. Domestic demand increased by 10.4 percent, capacity went up by 4.6 percent, and the load factor was 80.2 percent, an increase of 4.2 percentage points.

“2024 is off to a strong start despite economic and geopolitical uncertainties. As governments look to build prosperity in their economies in the busiest election year ever, it is critical that they see aviation as a catalyst for growth. Increased taxes and onerous regulation are a counterweight to prosperity. We will be looking to governments for policies that help aviation to reduce costs, improve efficiency and make progress towards net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 45.4 percent increase in January 2024 traffic compared to January 2023, continuing the region’s rapid recovery after the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Capacity climbed 48.1 percent and the load factor fell by 1.5 percentage points to 82.6 percent. The exceptionally strong growth rate is largely attributable to China which was in the early stages of lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions in January 2023. The recovery in major international routes to/from Asia-Pacific is still lagging, but routes such as Asia-Middle East have exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

European carriers’ January 2024 traffic rose 10.8 percent versus January 2023. Capacity increased 10.7 percent, and the load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 77.3 percent. Routes between Europe and North America have rebounded particularly strongly from the pandemic and stand 6.5 percent higher than in January 2020.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 16.2 percent rise in January 2024 traffic compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 15.7 percent and load factor climbed 0.4 percentage points to 79.9 percent.

North American carriers had a 12.3 percent traffic rise in January 2024 versus the 2023 period. Capacity also increased 13.7 percent, and load factor fell 1.0 percentage point to 79.4 percent.

Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 17.9 percent compared to the same month in 2023. January capacity climbed 13.2 percent, pushing the load factor up 3.4 percentage points to 86 percent, the highest among the regions.

African airlines saw an 18.5 percent traffic increase in January 2024 versus a year ago. January capacity was up 19.2 percent causing load factor to decline 0.4 percentage points to 73.3 percent, the lowest among the regions.