A boost in business confidence in Nigeria has led to a 4.49 percent increase in African airlines’ passenger traffic in year-on-year January numbers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.
IATA said the rise was against a mixed backdrop for the region’s largest economies.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general made the announcement on the website of the association on Thursday.
de Junaic said: “In Nigeria, business confidence has risen sharply while in South Africa political uncertainty continues to inflict an economic toll as the region’s capacity rose 4.2 per cent and load factor edged up 0.5 percentage point to 70.3 per cent”.
He said global passenger traffic results for January 2018 reveal that traffic rose 4.6 per cent, compared to January 2017, which is the slowest year-over-year increase in nearly four years.
The director-general said the results were affected by temporary factors, including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018 as well as less favourable comparisons with the strong upward trend in traffic, seen in late 2016 to early 2017.
“IATA estimates the impact of the later Lunar New Year-related travel period holiday, represented around two-fifth of the slowdown in year-over-year growth for the month. January capacity rose 5.3 per cent, and load factor slipped half a percentage point to 79.6 per cent,” he said.
A slow start in 2018 is being corrected by the economic momentum that is now supporting rising passenger demand as the year rolls on, he said.
“That said, concerns over a possible trade war involving the U.S. could have a serious dampening effect on global market confidence, spilling over into demand for air travel,” he warned.
de Junaic affirmed that aviation was the business of freedom, “which liberates us from the constraints of geography, distance and time, enabling us to lead better lives, and makes the world a better place.”
He advocated for borders that are open to trade and travel and the infrastructure required to support the demand for continuity, noting that these were necessary for the business of freedom to grow the benefits it generates.
“Governments have the main role to play in these areas by preserving the benefits of global commerce and ensuring adequate airport and airspace capacity, to cope with an expected doubling of demand by 2036, ” he said.