As a passenger, you'd probably love to be surrounded by empty seats. For airlines, though, the opposite is true. People in the airline industry use the term passenger load factor as a metric to measure how full a flight is. But what exactly is it?
The load factor ratio is calculated by dividing the number of seats sold by the number of passenger seats in the plane. If a plane from Amsterdam to Barcelona flies 81 passengers but has 100 seats, the load factor would be 81%. A full flight has a load factor of 100%. More seats filled means higher load factor, which leads to more revenue for airlines.
How full were flights across the globe last year?
According to IATA, the global passenger load factor hit a record high of 81.4% in 2017. Europe and North America led the pack with respective load factors of 83.9% and 83.6%, while Africa had the lowest load factor with 70.9% for the year.
We decided to dive deeper to find out how airlines in each region performed when considering full service and low-cost carriers. We collected data from 122 airlines who publicly list their load factor figures. From these airlines, full service carriers had an average load factor of 77.4%, while low-cost carriers had a strong performance with a load factor of 83.9%.
Check out our findings in the infographic below. You can also download the infographic as a PDF file.
So to recap, these were the average load factors per region (in ranking order):
- Europe 83.9%
- North America 83.6%
- Latin America 81.8%
- Asia Pacific 81.0%
- Middle East 74.5%
- Africa 70.9%
For more information, check out IATA's Air Passenger Market Analysis for 2017.