Global air travel flat; freight down
Dubai, October 29, 2009
The international passenger traffic was almost unchanged in September 2009, compared to the same period last year. There was an increase of just 0.3 per cent in demand, said International Air Transport Association (Iata).
However, Middle Eastern carriers experienced an 18.2 per cent year-on-year increase in September, it said.
Demand for international cargo was 5.4 per cent below September 2008 levels. Load factors for passenger and cargo have returned to pre-crisis levels of 77.1 per cent and 50.8 per cent, respectively.
The apparent year-over-year improvement in passenger demand is misleading, Iata said. 'It is largely due to comparisons with an exceptionally weak September 2008 when traffic fell sharply (-2.9pc for passenger and -7.7pc for cargo).
Seasonally adjusted statistics show a 0.3% drop in passenger volumes and a 1.4% fall in cargo volumes for September 2009 compared with August 2009. This reflects the pause seen in the economic recovery in the US and elsewhere in the past few months, it said.
“It is far too early to call this a recovery. The worst may be over in terms of the fall in demand, but yields continue to be a disaster and costs are rising. The airline industry remains firmly in the red with a fragile business environment,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s director general and CEO.
Airlines continue to carefully manage capacity. Seasonally adjusted passenger capacity has remained unchanged throughout the year while cargo capacity has edged up only slightly in the last two months. Load factors have risen to pre-crisis levels which should help to correct the precipitous fall in yields (-14pc for economy, -18pc for premium and –20pc in cargo), he said.
It said rising costs are a concern. As airlines adjust capacity to match demand, aircraft are flying fewer hours (-3pc for some aircraft types). This is raising non-fuel unit costs. At the same time, oil prices have risen to above $75 per barrel (Brent) considerably higher than the $43 per barrel level at the start of the year, Iata said.
Some highlights of the Iata report:
* Passenger demand is now 5pc better than the low point reached in March 2009, but 6pc below the peak recorded in early 2008.
* Asia-Pacific carriers recorded the most significant improvement, from -1.6pc in August to +2.1pc in September.
* European carriers saw a deterioration in demand from -2.8pc in August to -4.2pc in September. This partly reflects a loss of market share by network carriers on short-haul routes to low-cost carriers.
* North American carriers saw demand largely unchanged (-2.4pc in September compared to -2.5pc in August). This flattening-out is related to a dip in consumer and business confidence.
* Middle Eastern carriers experienced an 18.2pc year-on-year increase in September. This was distorted by the shifting of the Ramadan period, which started in August 2009, compared with September last year. Growth is driven primarily by market share gains on long-haul routes via Middle Eastern hubs. -TradeArabia News Service