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This rise in air travel demand represents a welcome recovery for the industry after serious set backs resulting from the 2007-2008 economic crisis.

— Marisa Garcia

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the highest demand for air travel in the past five years.

Global air travel demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), rose 6.5% for the year compared to 2014.

“This the strongest result since the post-Global Financial Crisis rebound in 2010, and well above the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%,” the airline organization states.

Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA said of the results, “Last year’s very strong performance, against a weaker economic backdrop, confirms the strong demand for aviation connectivity. But even as the appetite for air travel increased, consumers benefitted from lower fares compared to 2014.”

Annual airline capacity rose by 5.6% and passenger load factor climbed 0.6 percentage points to a record annual high of 80.3%.

While all regions experienced growth in 2015, Asia-Pacific airlines accounted for one-third of global annual increase in traffic in 2015, with a demand increase of 8.2% compared to 2014.

North American airlines’ demand rose by 3.2% in 2015, “Broadly unchanged from the growth achieved in 2014,” IATA reports.

U.S. airline domestic traffic growth outperformed international growth. Domestic RPKs account for 66% of North American airlines’ operations.

  • US domestic traffic rose by 4.9%, which IATA attributes to solid economic growth.
  • US airlines’ load factor rose by 0.1 percentage points to 81.8%.
  • US airlines’ domestic load factor reached a domestic record high of 85.4%.

“This was the fastest rate of increase since 2004 and the first time since 2003 that [U.S. airline] domestic traffic growth surpassed international growth,” IATA states.

  • In Latin America domestic travel accounted for 46% of airline operations for 2015.
  • In Asia-Pacific domestic travel accounted for 45% of airline operations.
  • In Europe, domestic travel represented 11% of operations.
  • For Middle Eastern airlines domestic travel represented only 4% of operations.

Middle Eastern airlines had the strongest annual traffic growth at 10.5%. Their share of international traffic surpassed that of North American airlines (14.2% v 13.4%).

Middle East airlines grew capacity by 13.2% which exceeded demand. As a result load factor decreased 1.7 points to 76.4%.

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