Skift Take

Middle Eastern carriers, including Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, are experiencing phenomenal growth, and IATA's latest passenger numbers put some context behind the trend.

While international passenger demand from around the world grew 5.7% in May, carriers in the Middle East and Africa saw their growth in international passengers climb 11.7% and 9.8%, respectively, far outpacing airlines in other regions.

The May traffic numbers, which come from IATA, show another developing region, Latin America, experiencing growth in international passenger demand of 7.9%, compared with May 2012.

“Demand for air travel in the Middle East and Africa has benefitted from continued expansion in trade volumes since late 2011,” IATA states.

IATA is also bullish on Latin America’s prospects, stating: “The outlook for air travel in the region appears to be solid with trade volumes experiencing strong expansion in the second quarter.”

North American airlines saw the most sluggish growth in international passenger demand at 3% in May 2013 versus a year ago.

“The May growth was almost double the year-to-date growth of 1.6% but the underlying economic picture is less positive,” IATA states. “U.S. manufacturing activity slowed for the third consecutive month in May. Moreover, trade volumes look even weaker than the global trend.”

Here is the rest of IATA’s passenger, seat miles and load factor numbers for May and year-to-date 2013:

May 2013 vs. May 2012 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 5.7% 5.6% 77
Domestic 5.6% 4.5% 79.9
Total Market 5.6% 5.2% 78.1
YTD 2013 vs YTD 2012 RPK Growth ASK Growth PLF
International 4.5% 3.6% 77.9
Domestic 4% 3.1% 79.2
Total Market 4.3% 3.4% 78.4
Note: RPK = Revenue Per Kilometers; ASK = Availabe Seat Kilometers; PLF = Passenger Load Factor
Source: IATA

When it comes to domestic traffic, China saw the highest growth of any country, with passenger traffic rising 13.4% in May 2013 despite weakness in the country’s manufacturing and services sectors, IATA states.

Meanwhile, domestic traffic in the U.S. inched upwards just 2.8%, but the load factors in the U.S. rose 0.2% to 85%, the tops for any market, as U.S. airlines tightly manage capacity.

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Photo credit: Qatar Airways new Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxis after arriving on it's inaugural flight to Heathrow Airport, west London. Reuters

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