The Air Transport Monthly Monitor for February 2020

The numbers that are shared in the article below reflect the situation as it was in December 2019. In the coming months the analysis of the economic and aviation indicators we share will reflect the impact of Covid-19 on this industry.

The air transport industry is not only a vital engine of global socio-economic growth, but it is also of vital importance as a catalyst for economic development. Not only does the industry create direct and indirect employment and support tourism and local businesses, but it also stimulates foreign investment and international trade.

Informed decision-making is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built. In a fast-growing industry like aviation, planners and investors require the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable data. ICAO’s aviation data/statistics programme provides accurate, reliable and consistent aviation data so that States, international organizations, aviation industry, tourism and other stakeholders can:

  • make better projections;
  • control costs and risks;
  • improve business valuations; and
  • benchmark performance.

The UN recognized ICAO as the central agency responsible for the collection, analysis, publication, standardization, improvement and dissemination of statistics pertaining to civil aviation. Because of its status as a UN specialized agency, ICAO remains independent from outside influences and is committed to consistently offering comprehensive and objective data. Every month ICAO produces this Air Transport Monitor, a monthly snapshot and analysis of the economic and aviation indicators.


World Results and Analyses for December 2020

Total Scheduled Services (Domestic and International)

Revenue Passenger-Kilometres   –   RPK

World passenger traffic grew by +4.5% YoY in December 2019, +1.2 percentage points higher than the growth in the previous month. This elevation was attributed to the acceleration in three regions, Africa, Europe and North America. Strong performance was observed in the United States owing to the later timing of the Thanksgiving holidays which contributed to traffic increase, especially the domestic traffic at the beginning of December. The other major domestic markets, however, experienced modest growth.

International Traffic vs. Tourist Arrivals

International passenger traffic grew by +3.8% YoY in December 2019, +0.7 percentage point higher than the growth in the previous month. The Middle East remained as the strongest performing region despite a slowdown. Improvements were demonstrated in Africa, Europe and North America. Being the only region with negative growth, traffic of Latin America/Caribbean further deteriorated. The growth of international tourist arrivals* remained relatively stable.


 Available Seat-Kilometres   –   ASK

Capacity worldwide increased by +2.1% YoY in December 2019, +0.3 percentage point higher than the growth in the previous month (+1.8%). According to the airline schedules, capacity expansion is expected to be up to +3.0% in January 2020.

Load Factor   –   LF

The passenger Load Factor reached 82.3% in December 2019, +1.2 percentage points higher than the previous month. As traffic growth outpaced the capacity expansion, the December LF was +1.9 percentage points higher compared to the rate in the same period of 2018.

Freight Tonne-Kilometres  – FTK

World freight traffic reported a decline of -2.7% YoY in December 2019, -1.6 percentage points lower than the growth in the previous month. Freight demand continued to be low impacted by the weak global trade. All regions experienced a negative growth except for Africa which maintained its double-digit growth and remained as the fastest-growing region. This solid growth, however, could not offset the fall in other regions which accounted for around 98% of the total freight traffic. Latin America/Caribbean recorded the weakest performance.

The overall annual freight traffic in 2019 contracted by -3.3% compared to 2018, first time since 2012.

Note: Figures include total scheduled and non-scheduled services

December 2019:   +2.8%, +2.7%, and +0.2% YoY in terms of aircraft departures, passengers and freight for the Top 15

In terms of aircraft departures, the Top 15 airports reported a growth of +2.8% YoY. Eleven out of the Top 15 airports posted YoY increases. A strong performance was observed by airports in the United States. Chicago remained at 1st, albeit with a marginal growth of +1.3%, whereas, Dallas/Fort Worth recorded the highest growth at +11.1%.

In terms of passengers, the Top 15 airports reported a growth of +2.7% YoY. Eleven out of the Top 15 airports posted YoY increases. Atlanta remained at 1st with a modest growth of 5.2%. Decline was observed in major hubs including Beijing and Tokyo, contracting by -2.5 and -2.7%, respectively. Dallas/Fort Worth recorded the most significant growth at +13.8%.

In terms of freight, the Top 15 airports reported a growth of +0.2% YoY. Freight traffic remained weak as most of the Top 15 airports posted declines. Miami recorded the largest fall by -7.9%, followed by Dubai at -6.5%. Six airports contributed positively to freight traffic with Shanghai recording the highest growth at +13.1% followed by Louisville at +8.5%.

December 2019:   +5.3% YoY in terms of RPK for the Top 15

In terms of RPK, the Top 15 airline groups accounted for 48.2% of the world’s total RPK in December 2019 and grew by +5.3% YoY. This growth was +0.8 percentage point higher than the world’s average on scheduled services. All the Top 15 airline groups posted YoY growth.

United ranked 1st with moderate growth of +3.7%, followed by American which grew by +3.5% and remained at 2nd. Delta grew by +4.9% and maintained its 3rd position. Southwest increased modestly by +1.5% while remained at 11th.

Emirates remained at 4th with a marginal growth of +1.0%. Qatar Airways recorded the fastest growth among the Top 15 airlines at +19.3% and retained its 12th position.

AF-KLM rose by +3.5% while dropped by 1 position to the 6thIAG recorded a solid growth of +6.4%, albeit remained at 7th, followed by Lufthansa rising at +3.3%. Both Ryanair and Turkish Airlines posted stronger growth at +7.7% and +8.1%, and maintained their position at 13th and 15th, respectively.

China Southern improved 1 position to 5th with an increase of +7.0%Air China and China Eastern retained their 9th and 10th position and grew by +5.0% and +7.1%, respectively. Singapore Airlines grew by 7.9% and remained at 14th.

Worldwide capacity expansion grew by +2.1% YoY in December 2019. Three regions, Africa, Europe and North America, accelerated capacity expansion with Africa remaining as the fastest expanding region, albeit at a modest pace. The other regions posted a slowdown in growth with the Middle East being the only region with contraction. Overall annual capacity in 2019 increased by +3.4%, slowed to almost half of the pace in 2018.

Acronyms: ACI: Airports Council International; ASK: Available Seat-Kilometres; IATA: International Air Transport Association; FTK: Freight Tonne-Kilometres; LF: Passenger Load Factor;
OAG: Official Airline Guide; RPK: Revenue Passenger-Kilometres; UNWTO: World Tourism Organization; YoY: Year-on-year; YTD: Year-to-date.



aviation growtheconomic developmenteconomic growtheconomic indicatorsmonthly monitorpassenger traffic