Global passenger traffic increased 7.6% in February, resuming the upward momentum of 2017 after a January slowdown affected by the later timing of the Lunar New Year, according to IATA’s latest Air Passenger Market Analysis.

“The stronger demand growth in January ... is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid business confidence,” IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. “However, increases in fuel prices, and labor costs in some countries, likely will temper the amount of traffic stimulation from lower airfares later this year.”

Industry-wide capacity increased 6.3% during the month, driving up the overall passenger load factor 0.9 point to 80.4%, the highest-ever load factor for the month of February, IATA said.

In international traffic, Latin American carriers had the highest growth rate—9.8%—compared to February 2017, as the region continues to recover from the devastating 2017 hurricane season and travelers returned for warm-climate vacations. Asia-Pacific carriers also showed strong 9.1% passenger growth during the month, more than doubling from January and continued to reflect robust regional growth and increasing travel options for consumers. North American carriers too showed solid international passenger traffic growth in February, rising 7.2%, an 11-month high, IATA said, reflecting the region’s strong economic backdrop, which supported outbound traffic.

In domestic passenger traffic, India continued its dominant growth streak, with 22.9% rise passenger traffic, year-over-year (YOY). As domestic capacity in the country was up 17.7%, the resulting 90.7% passenger load factor was the first time the 90% domestic threshold had been exceeded on record, IATA said. The US domestic market—the world’s largest—also contributed to the overall 8.2% rise in domestic traffic globally, with a 6.2% increase in domestic traffic, again driven by strong economic conditions in the US.

Mark Nensel