ANALYSIS: Industry load factors on the rise again in February

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Passenger load factors remained high in February across the regions as airline traffic levels, as figures for Asian, European and North American carriers showed improved levels.

While reported traffic growth was flat for European and North American carriers in February, this was in part distorted by the negative effect of their being one less day last month than in 2012 because of the leap year. This roughly took away 3% of capacity in February compared to the same month last year, impacting traffic by a similar level.

Despite the leap year effect traffic still grew 13% among those Asia-Pacific carriers to report so far. Passenger traffic though was relatively higher in February as direct comparison is further distorted by the Chinese new year falling in January last year. This resulted in the holiday-related travel spike falling in January rather than February in 2012.

Asia February traffic 

Carriers in Asia-Pacific enjoyed an overall improvement in load factor of nearly four points among selected carriers to have reported so far. This sees passenger load factors averaging just under 80%. Traffic growth outpaced extra capacity added to the network at most carriers, notably Chinese operators, which enjoyed some of the strongest improvements in load factors over the corresponding month in 2012. This though in part reflected the different timing of the Chinese new year.

 N American February traffic

Load factors at North American carriers were nearly 2% higher in February than the corresponding month in 2012, averaging fractionally under 80% across leading carriers. Load factors increased for all but a handful of North American operators

 Asia Pacific traffic February

Passenger load factors grew 1.6 percentage points among European carriers in February, load factors across a broad spectrum of carriers averaging 74.4%. This included a high of over 90% at EasyJet on an earned seat basis.