India's passenger traffic continues to climb at a “stable rate”, increasing 3.8% YoY in March 2024, even as the global air passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres (RPK), comprising domestic and international surged 13.8% year-on-year (YoY), according to the March-2024 report by Montreal-based airline industry trade body IATA (International Air Transport Association).

India’s domestic RPK growth in February 2024 was recorded a little higher than in March at 4.8%. India's domestic air passenger market accounted for 1.8% of the world share in March 2024 against China's 11.2% and the US domestic market of 15.4%. The growth rate of available seat-kilometers (ASK) for India stood at 3.5% in March 2024, while the passenger load factor (PLF) was recorded at 85.8%.

Comparatively, China grew at a significant 17.6% YoY in domestic RPK, thus remaining the leading market in expansion. "In seasonally adjusted terms, passenger traffic in China was on a stark rise since November 2023, March 2024 saw a pause in this positive trend as RPK contracted 4.7% MoM," says IATA. China’s domestic airline market grew 35.1% in February 2024.

Separately, while international RPK surged 18.9% YoY in March 2024, domestic growth was recorded at 6.6% YoY, shows the data. “Total international passenger traffic drove most of the industry’s growth in March, increasing 18.9% YoY.”

The IATA report says March 2024 saw a “lower annual growth rate” compared to February 2024, a natural development considering that the industry is now seeing record levels of passenger traffic while rising above the historical record in 2019.

Total global capacity, measured in available seat kilometres, was up 12.3% year-on-year. The March load factor was 82.0% (+1.0ppt compared to March 2023).

In the US, passenger traffic increased by 2.6% over the year while the seasonally adjusted figures remained broadly in line with the positive trend the country has seen over the last three years. Brazil's RPK grew by 1.6% YoY, climbing 0.6% MoM in seasonally adjusted terms.

Australia experienced a significant drop in annual growth rate from the month prior, from 14% in February to 1.8% YoY in March, respectively. The country saw a deterioration in economic conditions from January to March 2024, a development that could partly explain the decrease in RPK compared to March 2023.

“Demand for travel is strong. And there is every indication that this should continue into the peak Northern Summer travel season. It is critical that we have the capacity to meet this demand and ensure a hassle-free travel experience for passengers. That means making urgent progress to resolve supply chain issues and for airports and air traffic management to be fully staffed and operating at maximum efficiency,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Airlines in all regions reported consistent growth, says IATA, with Asia Pacific carriers leading again, as international traffic surged by 38.5% YoY, the report adds.

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