Australian airlines posted healthy increases in passenger demand in February, suggesting the sluggish trends of recent times many be changing.
Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show Australian domestic revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rose 3.4 per cent in February 2015, compared with the same month a year ago.
And with airlines exercising capacity discipline – domestic available seat kilometres (ASK) were down 0.2 per cent in the month – load factors rose to 77.8 per cent, from 75.2 per cent in the prior corresponding period.
“Volumes had experienced very little growth since the middle of 2013 as the economy has struggled to rebalance away from mining investment-led growth,” IATA said.
“The February result could be reflecting some early signs of economic growth edging up, with Q4 2014 data suggesting a slight improvement on the earlier sluggish trend.”
Elsewhere, the timing of Chinese New Year and Brazil’s Carnival led to a strong 6.2 per cent increase in global passenger demand in February.
Asia-Pacific carriers posted the strongest gains, with RPKs up 9.1 per cent in the month, followed by Middle East airlines (up 8.2 per cent) and Latin America (up 8.0 per cent).
“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,” IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said.
IATA has about 250 member airlines that represent about 84 per cent of global air traffic.