Latin America and Caribbean airlines achieved 15 consecutive years of record growth. Passenger traffic increased 5.7% in 2018, the highest growth since 2015

Panama, February 12, 2019

Dear readers,

2018 set the fifteenth consecutive year of growth in Latin American and Caribbean airlines passenger traffic and the year with the highest growth recorded since 2015, confirming the recovery of the industry with growth close to 5 percentage points above the economy of the region, where GDP reached a 1.2% growth compared to 2017, according to IMF.

Out of the 16 million additional passengers carried in 2018, 13 million (82%) correspond to additional passengers carried in the intra-Latin American market, equivalent to percentage growth of 5.1%. In the intra-Latin American market, the domestic markets of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru leveraged more than 90% of the growth, by carrying 12.2 million additional passengers. Mexico grew by 9.5% in its domestic market, Chile 16%, Peru 12% and Argentina 13%. Brazil, which is the most important domestic market in the region, grew by 3.6%, indicating 2 consecutive years of positive growth after the deceleration shown during 2015 and 2016.

In the intra-Latin American international market, the airlines of the region carried 43 million passengers (+3.8% compared to 2017), with the Argentina – Brazil market as the most important with a flow of 3.7 million passengers in 2018 (+4.9% compared to 2017). The following markets stood out in percentage growth

  • Colombia – Uruguay: +60%
  • Costa Rica – Peru: +54%
  • Ecuador – Mexico: +52%
  • Colombia – Dominican Republic: +39%
  • Brazil – Chile: +19%

In the extra-Latin American international market, the airlines of the region carried 30.1 million passengers in 2018, 11.2% more than the previous year. In this market, 2018 set a special milestone as it was the year where LAC airlines completed international operations to the 5 main regions outside the region (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa) thanks to the inauguration of the new LATAM flight between Sao Paulo and Tel Aviv.

In absolute terms, the market that grew the most in 2018 was North America with 2.7 million additional passengers, where the traffic between USA – Brazil (+34%), Mexico – USA (+11.1%), Mexico – Canada (+33.5%) and,Guatemala – USA (+33%) stood out. In percentage terms, the extra-Latin American region that grew the most in traffic for LAC airlines was Africa with 51% growth or the equivalent to 32,000 additional passengers.

Additionally, 2018 was also a very positive year for LAC airlines in terms of routes development, with a total of 64 new routes, 22 domestic and 42 international. 47 of these routes were intra-regional routes (25 international and 22 domestic) and 17 extra-regional routes (14 to North America, 3 to Europe and 1 to Middle East).

Concerning the fleet, the airlines of the region closed 2018 with an operating fleet of 1,962 aircraft. During the year 86 aircraft were delivered to the airlines of the region: 74 narrow body, 6 wide body and 6 turboprop.

It is estimated that by 2019 the airlines of the region will exceed 300 million passengers. We have a great year ahead and we will continue working so that aviation reaches its enormous potential to consolidate as the most efficient, safe and sustainable means of transport.

I invite you to read the detail of the report below.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira

The Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) announced today that Latin America and Caribbean airlines carried 295.5 million passengers in 2018, up 5.7% – or 16 million more passengers – from the previous year.
Traffic (RPK) grew 7.6% and capacity (ASK) increased 7.9%, bringing up the load factor to 81.7% or 0.2 percentage points lower than in 2017. (see table 1).
The number of passengers carried during December 2018 increased 8.9% versus the same month of the previous year, reaching 26.6 million passengers. In that month, traffic (RPK) rose 7.8%, capacity (ASK) increased 8%, and the passenger load factor reached 81.3%, 0.1 percentage points lower than December 2017.

Monthly Passenger Traffic Growth


Table 1

Traffic to/from Latin America & Caribbean

Latin America and Caribbean airlines carried 30.1 million passengers to and from Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018, up 11.2% from the previous year (see table 2). Traffic (RPK) grew 9.5% and capacity (ASK) increased 10.1%, bringing the load factor to 82.1%.

To/From Latin America & Caribbean Traffic Distribution

Table 2

Traffic data from the following airlines is included in this report: Aerolíneas Argentinas (includes Austral), Aeromar, Aeromexico Connect, Aeromexico, Air Antilles, Air Panama, Amaszonas, Andes Líneas Aéreas, Aruba Airlines, ASERCA Airlines, Avianca Brasil, Avianca Holdings, AVIOR Airlines, Azul Airlines, Bahamasair, Boliviana de Aviación – BoA, Caicos Express Airways, Calafia Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Cayman Airways, CM Airlines, Conviasa, Copa Airlines Colombia, Copa Airlines, Cubana de Aviacion S.A, Easyfly S. A., Ecojet, Fly Jamaica, Flybondi, FlyMontserrat, Insel Air, Intercaribbean Airways Ltd, Interjet, Jetsmart, LASER Airlines, LATAM Airlines Group, LC Peru, LIAT , Link Conexion Aerea S.A. de C.V, Maya Island Air, NatureAir, Passaredo, PAWA Dominicana, Peruvian Airlines, RUTACA, Saint Barth Commuter, SANSA Airlines, SATENA, Seaborne Airlines, Sky Airline, Skybahamas, Southern Air Charter, Star Peru, Sunrise Airways, Surinam Airways, TAG Airlines , TAME Línea Aérea del Ecuador, TAR Aerolineas, Tropic Air, VI Airlink, VivaAerobus, VivaAir Colombia, VivaAir Peru, Volaris, and Windward Island Airways International.

Glossary RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometers) number of passengers carried times the distance traveled | ASK (Available Seat Kilometers) number of seats available for sale times the distance traveled | PLF Passenger Load Factor, obtained by dividing the RPKs by the ASKs | FTK (Freight Ton Kilometers) number of tons of freight carried times the distance traveled