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Strong passenger traffic in January as Embraer and Boeing roll out their new models

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a 9.6% increase in global passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) during January 2017 – the strongest increase in more than five years. Half a percentage uptick was the result of the Lunar New Year falling in January rather than February in 2016. January capacity rose 8.0%, while load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 80.2%.

“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011. This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

January international passenger traffic surged 9.3% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 7.5% and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage point to 80.3%. All regions recorded year-over-year increases in demand led by the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Asia Pacific carriers recorded an increase of 10.9% compared to January 2016, helped by the impact of Lunar New Year-related travel and solid growth on routes within Asia. Capacity rose 8.9%, pushing up load factor 1.5 percentage points to 81.4%.

European carriers’ international traffic climbed 8.3% in January compared to the year-ago period against a backdrop of moderate momentum in the Eurozone economy. Capacity rose 6.7% and load factor was up 1.2 percentage points to 80.3%.

Middle East carriers had the strongest year-over-year demand growth in January at 14.4%. Capacity climbed 11.4% and load factor rose against the year-ago period for a third consecutive month, up 2.1 percentage points to 79.8%.

North American airlines had the slowest demand growth, with traffic rising 3.2% in January, compared to a year ago. Capacity climbed 3.1%, and load factor was flat at 80.3%. Traffic on the transpacific market has continued to trend upwards but North Atlantic traffic growth has weakened since the middle of 2016, reflecting softer demand on UK-US routes.

Latin American airlines’ traffic climbed 8.2% in January. Capacity rose 5.7% and load factor increased 1.9 percentage points to 83.7%, highest among the regions. Robust international demand within South America is offsetting weaker demand to North America.

African airlines saw January traffic rise 5.6% compared to January 2016. This reflects a recovery on the key routes to/from Europe, despite continuing weakness in South Africa and Nigeria. With capacity up 4.5%, load factor rose 0.7 percentage point to 69.9%.

Meanwhile, Embraer rolled out its new E195-E2 in a ceremony held yesterday at the company’s facilities in São José dos Campos. With the first flight scheduled for the coming months, the jet is expected to enter into service in the first half of 2019.

“The E195-E2 has the potential to significantly change the fleet profile of airlines around the world. With a 20% lower cost per trip and a cost per seat similar to larger aircraft, the E195-E2 becomes the ideal aircraft for regional business growth as well as low-cost business plans and complementing existing mainline fleets,” said John Slattery, President & CEO, Embraer Commercial Aviation.

The E195-E2 has three additional rows of seats, when compared to the current generation E195, and it can be configured with 120 seats in two classes of service, or up to 146 in a single class. The aircraft also has a significant increase in range of 450 nautical miles, which allows trips of up to 2,450 nautical miles.

The aircraft has a dedicated wing, with the highest aspect ratio among single-aisle jets, increasing fuel efficiency. In addition to a more balanced specification, Embraer applied over 17 million hours of flight experience on today’s E-Jet fleet of over 1,300 units to come up with the optimal E2 design. For example, being designed with an intelligent combination of materials, the E195-E2 can carry 10% more passengers than a direct competitor and still have the same weight.

“We introduced in the proven E-Jets platform all new technologies that would add value to customers. One example is the fourth generation of fly-by-wire, which allowed a 20% reduction of the empennage area, minimizing drag and weight,” explained Luís Carlos Affonso, COO, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “The airplane will save up to 24% in fuel and 20% in maintenance costs per seat, when compared to the current E195. A portion of these savings will be achieved with the new engine technology, but the greatest competitive advantage of the E195-E2 lies in the optimization of its structure and of its various systems.”

Boeing debuted the first 737 MAX 9 yesterday, which has a maximum capacity of 220 passengers and a range of 3,515 nautical miles.

The aircraft now begins system checks, fueling and engine runs on the flight line. Once completed, flight testing will commence in the coming weeks.

“The 737 MAX team continues to do a fantastic job getting us to these important milestones right on schedule,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Our primary focus is delivering an aircraft that has the legendary reliability our 737 customers depend on, plus the optimized flexibility and range capability they desire.”

The 737 MAX 9 is scheduled to enter service in 2018. The 737 MAX 8 is on track to deliver to customers in the second quarter of 2017.

Date: March 8, 2017

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