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September Airline Passenger Demand Shows Continued Recovery in Q3

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently announced that the upward trajectory of passenger traffic, observed since the post-pandemic period, has strengthened in September. This positive trend in airline passenger demand signifies a notable recovery in the aviation industry.

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In September 2023, there was a significant increase in total traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), compared to September 2022. The traffic has now reached 97.3% of pre-COVID levels globally.

Domestic traffic reached a new record high in September, with a 28.3% increase compared to September 2022, surpassing the levels from September 2019 by 5.0%.

International traffic also experienced a rise of 31.2% compared to the previous year. All markets witnessed double-digit percentage growth. The international RPKs reached 93.1% of the levels recorded in September 2019.

“The third quarter of 2023 ended on a high note, with record domestic passenger demand for the month of September and continued strong international traffic,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Air Passenger Market in Detail

September 2023 (% year-on-year)World Share​1RPKASKPLF(%-PT)​2PLF(Level)​3
Total Market100%30.1%28.8%0.8%82.6%
Africa2.1%24.6%27.2%-1.5%73.1%
Asia Pacific22.1%87.9%75.5%5.3%80.0%
Europe30.8%13.8%12.8%0.8%86.0%
Latin America6.4%15.7%14.3%1.1%83.9%
Middle East9.8%26.1%22.8%2.2%81.6%
North America28.8%9.7%12.5%-2.1%83.0%
1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) Year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

International Airline Passenger Markets

According to the latest data, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region experienced a remarkable growth of 92.6% in September 2023 compared to the same period last year. This region continues to lead in terms of annual improvement, with a capacity increase of 82.1% and a significant rise of 4.5 percentage points in the load factor, reaching 82.5%.

In Europe, carriers saw a respectable growth of 15.7% in September 2023 compared to the previous year. Capacity also increased by 14.9%, resulting in a 0.6 percentage point rise in the load factor, which reached 85.5%.

Middle Eastern airlines witnessed a substantial increase in September traffic, with a growth of 26.6% compared to the same period in the previous year. The capacity rose by 23.7%, and the load factor improved by 1.9 percentage points, reaching 81.8%.

North American carriers experienced an 18.9% rise in traffic in September 2023 compared to the previous year. The capacity also increased by 18.0%, resulting in a 0.6 percentage point improvement in the load factor, which reached 85.6%.

In Latin America, airlines reported a remarkable increase of 26.8% in traffic when compared to the same month in 2022. September capacity climbed 24.7%, and the load factor rose by 1.4 percentage points, reaching 85.8%.

African airlines displayed a noteworthy growth of 28.1% in September 2023 compared to the previous year. Capacity increased by 29.9% and the load factor slipped by 1.0 percentage points, settling at 72.6%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

September 2023 (% year-on-year)World Share​1RPKASKPLF(%-PT)​2PLF(LEVEL)​3
Domestic41.9%28.3%28.2%0.1%80.7%
Domestic Australia1.0%7.2%11.7%-3.6%84.7%
Domestic Brazil1.5%5.0%3.9%0.8%81.4%
Domestic China P.R.6.4%168.7%135.2%9.6%76.7%
Domestic India2.0%17.2%13.0%3.1%84.7%
Domestic Japan1.2%19.9%4.3%9.7%74.9%
Domestic US19.2%5.5%10.4%-3.8%81.3%
1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

China’s domestic market experienced significant growth, with a demand increase of 168.7% compared to the previous year. It’s important to note that this growth is relative to September 2022 when there were travel restrictions in certain provinces in China.

In Japan, domestic traffic surged after the impact of typhoons in August, with revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rising by 19.9% compared to September 2022.

Air Passenger Market Overview – September 2023

September 2023 (% CH vs same month in 2019)World Share1RPKASKPLF (%-PT)2PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market100.0%-2.7%-3.5%0.7%82.6%
International58.1%-6.9%-9.2%2.1%83.8%
Domestic41.9%5.0%7.1%-1.6%80.7%
1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

Airline Passengers Take Advantage of Freedom to Travel

“With the end of 2023 fast approaching, we can look back on a year of strong recovery in demand as passengers took full advantage of their freedom to travel. There is every reason to believe that this momentum can be maintained in the New Year, despite economic and political uncertainties in parts of the world. But we need the whole value chain to be ready. Supply chain issues in the aircraft manufacturing sector are unacceptable. They have held back the recovery and solutions must be found. The same holds true for infrastructure providers, particularly air navigation service providers. Equipment failures, staffing shortages and labor unrest made it impossible to deliver the flying experience our customers expect. A successful 2024 needs the whole value chain to be fully prepared to handle the demand that is coming,” said Walsh.

September Air Passenger Market Analysis

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