Air Travel Reaches Record Highs for the First Half of 2017

Aug 3, 2017

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Summer air travel is a record that’s seemingly broken every year — and 2017 is expected to be no different. But it’s not just summer travel that’s reached record highs. For the first six months of 2017, the commercial airline industry experienced a record first half load factor of 80.7% and a 12-year high in traffic growth.

The International Air Transport (IATA) shared new data today showing that global demand for air travel rose by 7.8% in June, compared to the same period one year ago. In May, demand rose by 7.7% versus the same period one year prior. In addition, June capacity increased by 6.5% and load factor rose to 81.9%. This growth is for all regions around the world, so it’s not limited to North American or European travel.

What’s behind the increase in travel demand? Well, according to IATA, a bright economic picture and low airfares have kept the demand for travel strong. However, IATA warns that the demand isn’t likely to stick around for long.

“But as costs rise, this stimulus of lower fares is likely to fade,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “And uncertainties such as Brexit need to be watched carefully. Nonetheless, we still expect 2017 to see above-trend growth.”

Globally, the Africa region saw the most growth in airline demand, where traffic soared by 9.9% in June. As for traffic here at home, North American airlines saw demand rise by 4.4% for the month of June as compared to one year ago. The robust economy in North America is expected to keep that demand growing for outbound air traffic. But, IATA notes that anecdotal evidence suggests that inbound tourism has been deterred due to additional security measures that have been implemented for inbound travel to the US, which could hinder demand.

From sub-$400 fares round-trip from New York to Asia to round-trip fares from the US to Europe for $164, the airfare we’ve come to expect has been (for the most part) dirt cheap, so it’s no surprise that demand for air travel is on the rise. There’s no doubt we as passengers have been the beneficiaries of these low fares, and we certainly hope that trend continues.

Featured image courtesy of Brostock via Getty Images.

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