Air passenger traffic worldwide grew by 6.5% in 2015, a full percentage point above the 10-year average annual rate, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The growth figures are based on revenue per kilometers of travel, an industry measure known as RPK. The Geneva, Switzerland-based IATA said lower airfares helped drive passenger demand; overall, airfares in 2015 were down about 5% over the previous year.
Passenger traffic growth slowed toward the end of year, finishing December and November at 5.4% and 5.9%, respectively, compared to the more robust 7.1% in October.
IATA attributed the drop to temporary factors, including airline strikes in Europe. The trade group said that it expects ongoing declines in oil prices to support travel growth through 2016.
Annual capacity, or airline seats in service, increased by 5.6% in 2015. This growth helped lift the passenger load total to a record annual high of 80.3%, according to the IATA data.
International passenger traffic grew by 6.5% in 2015. Other highlights of the annual report:
Worldwide, domestic air travel increased by 6.3% in 2015, the IATA reported. The U.S. market enjoyed a 4.9% increase in domestic traffic, the fastest pace since 2004.
The association’s chief executive officer said in a press release that overall performance during 2015 “confirms the strong demand for aviation connectivity.” Tony Tyler added that air travelers are benefiting from lower fares even as the appetite for air travel continues to grow.
IATA says it represents about 260 airlines carrying more than 80% of the world’s air traffic.