The Association of European Airlines has released traffic and capacity data for its members for December and annual 2007. Passenger boardings for the AEA airlines climbed 4.1% to 358 million, up from 344m in 2006. In passenger-kilometres, the industry’s more conventional unit of measurement, the increase was rather greater, at plus 5.1%.
The third key statistic in the AEA data was the capacity increase, in terms of seat-km, of 4.2%. So for the fourth consecutive year, the increase in production has been more than matched by the growth in traffic, and for the fourth consecutive year a load factor record was set, at 77.1%. Note that the 70% milestone, which for long would have been regarded as a theoretical maximum for network airlines, was reached as recently as 1996.
Growth rates by region show a wide divergence, but for the most part followed stable trends through the year. In the Far East market, growth has followed a steady downward path from double-digit levels in mid-2006 to arrive at just 1.2% in December 2007, resulting in an annual figure of 3.1%. The trend line for North Atlantic traffic was meanwhile moving steadily in the other direction, beginning the year at 2.0% and ending at 6.0%, for an annual figure of plus 4.4%.
Transborder traffic in Europe remained relatively buoyant through the year with an increase of 7.0% overall, a buoyancy not matched in European domestic markets which grew just 1.1%.
Of the less heavily-travelled routes, most notable was a plus 11.8% for the year in South Atlantic traffic, maintaining a long-established trend of strong growth that has seen the AEA market increase by more than 60% in four years. Next-highest growth was a +9.7% on Middle Eastern routes, a much more volatile market which saw monthly increases fluctuating between 5% and 20% during the year.