Global demand for air transport slows down in January – IATA


Passengers board a RwandAir plane at Kigali International Airport. File.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said passenger demand for air transport rose 4.6% in January 2018, compared to 6.2% registered in December 2017.

This was the slowest in nearly four years, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and chief executive officer.

“Despite the slower start, economic momentum is supporting rising passenger demand in 2018. However, there are concerns over a possible trade war involving the US, which could have a serious dampening effect on global market confidence, spilling over into demand for air travel,” he said in a statement sent to The New Times, yesterday.

International passenger demand growth slowed to 4.4% in January, from 6.1% in December.

On the African front, African airlines registered 4.9% traffic boost supported by the continent’s increasing business confidence amongst investors.

More so, African carriers’ saw freight demand increase by 12.9% in January 2018 compared to the same month last year.

The increase was largely attributed to very strong growth on the trade lanes especially to and from Asia.

Freight demand jumped by 59% between Africa and Asia in 2017 following an increase in the number of direct flights between the continents, driven by ongoing foreign investment flows into Africa.

Last month, African countries launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the African Union (AU). The initiative is largely based on the agreements of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999.

According to aviation and transport experts like David Kajange, the AU Head of Transport and Tourism Division, much is expected from a de-regulated single African air market.

“The market will enhance interconnectivity, reduce costs and make it easier to integrate our economies, trade and tourism, he noted.

In a recent interview with media, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye the state minister in charge of transport pointed to the benefits saying that Rwanda is already benefiting from a more liberalised air space especially on tourism front.

“For us, because we’ve opened our airspace for two to three years now, we’ve seen our tourism revenue double. We hope now that with all the other countries joining it will continue to increase,” Uwihanganye said.

African airlines were recently urged to embrace e-commerce and digital technologies to become more profitable.

According to Eckart Reiche, the vice-president for sales at Airlines Wirecard, airlines on the continent should embrace technology to serve customer needs and experience in the increasingly competitive market.