Photo: The interior of a Boeing 777-300. (photo via Flickr/Matt Pek)
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the global passenger traffic results for February, which revealed the demand for air travel increased by 4.8 percent despite the backlash surrounding the attempted travel ban in the United States.
According to the IATA’s official website, the total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for February increased by 8.6 percent, slightly less than January’s growth of 8.9 percent. The load factor for the month also increased 1.6 percent to 79.5 percent, a new record for February.
While tourism officials voiced concern about a potential decline in travel to the U.S. due to President Donald Trump’s recent travel bans and the subsequent courtroom battles, the increase in passenger numbers is strengthening the industry.
“The strong demand momentum from January has continued, supported by lower fares and a healthier economic backdrop,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement. “Although we remain concerned over the impact of any travel restrictions or closing of borders, we have not seen the attempted U.S. ban on travel from six countries translate into an identifiable traffic trend.”
READ MORE: Airline Electronics Ban Likely to Expand
The IATA continued to voice its criticism of the new restrictions on electronic devices that many within the industry believe were enacted without consulting airlines. The current electronics ban prohibits items such as laptops, tablets, cameras and more on flights from nine Middle Eastern and African airlines, and 10 airports with direct flights to the U.S.
“The introduction of restrictions on the carry-on of large electronic devices was a missed opportunity and the result was a measure that cannot stand-up to the scrutiny of public confidence in the long term,” de Juniac said.
As for the average price of tickets, the IATA revealed that its estimates show airfare has fallen by more than 10 percent over the past year. The findings also revealed traffic for North American airlines was the slowest among all regions, with an increase of only 0.3 percent.
Airlines in the Middle East had the strongest growth, with a 9.5 percent demand increase in February compared to the previous year.