Global Air Travel Demand in 2015 Hit Highest Growth Rate Since 2010

By Michael B. Baker, Business Travel News

Lower fares propelled global demand for air travel in 2015, when it grew by its highest level in five years, the International Air Transport Association reported.

Global air traffic increased 6.5 percent year over year, including a 6.3 percent increase for domestic air travel and a 6.5 percent increase for international air travel. That is above the 10-year average growth rate of 5.5 percent, and it’s the highest growth rate since 2010, which was a year of recovery following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Economic fundamentals were weaker in 2015 than in the previous year, but lower airfares drove higher demand, according to IATA. Minus the effects of a stronger U.S. dollar, global fares declined 5 percent year over year in 2015.

Global airline capacity increased 5.6 percent in 2015, and a third of that came from Asia/Pacific carriers, IATA reported.

Middle Eastern carriers saw the strongest demand growth (10.5 percent), and their share of international traffic (14.2 percent) outpaced that of North American carriers (13.4 percent). Middle Eastern carriers increased capacity 13.2 percent, which outpaced demand growth.

International travel demand for North American carriers was steady at 3.2 percent, which is slightly above their 3.1 percent increase in capacity. European carriers experienced slower traffic growth at the end of the year, owing to strikes at Lufthansa and Russian carrier Transaero, and yet international travel demand increased 5 percent, which was higher than European carriers’ 3.8 percent increase in capacity.

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