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Moody’s Report – Passenger Growth Will Slow in 2019

Airport Terminal

According to a report from Moody’s, US airports should see a slowing in growth of passenger enplanements from 5.4% in 2018 to 3.2% in 2019. The investment research firm says there is a strong correlation between passenger enplanement growth and GDP growth.

Capacity at US airlines is expected to grow between 3.5% and 4.7% in 2018, which is a slowdown from the 4.5%-5.7% growth rate in 2018. Moody’s says most carriers can expect the lower single digit growth numbers but some ultra low cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines will likely see growth of 10% to 14%.

Airports in the Southern and Western United States should continue to experience stronger enplanement growth than the rest of the country because of faster growing and younger populations. Data from the airlines for America show that the biggest increase in air travel in recent years has been from passengers under age 44.

The Moody report also says that while airport finances should remain solid that the airports will likely seek more revenue through airline charges and passenger-related charges due to the slowing increase in passenger numbers.

Slowing Airline Growth and Pilot Hiring

The report does not show a dire concern for the pilot employment market. While growth at pilot employers can have a direct impact on their needs for hiring, the growth is a just a piece of the overall demand for pilots. There remains systemic issues independent of growth such as pilot retirements and a lack of pilots coming into the career pipeline.

While this report is showing growth to slow, the airlines are still expected to grow at a reasonable pace. Additionally, the airlines likely have their fleet planning complete for 2019 with the corresponding need for pilots already set.

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, a national low cost airline, a legacy airline, and also working as a manager in charge of Part 135 and Part 121 training programs.

Greg Thomson