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Global air traffic falls 2.4pc in April

Geneva, May 27, 2010

International scheduled air traffic slumped 2.4 per cent in April as a result of massive flight cancellations in Europe following the ash cloud crisis, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said.

The fall in traffic interrupted the industry’s recovery from the global financial crisis, according to the latest Iata report.

International scheduled cargo traffic, less impacted by the cancellations, saw the pace of its recovery slow to 25.2 per cent growth in April (down from the 28.1 per cent improvement recorded in March).

“The ash crisis knocked back the global recovery - impacting carriers in all regions. Last month, we were within 1 per cent of pre-crisis traffic levels in 2008. In April, that was pushed back to 7 per cent,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s director general and CEO.

“European carriers bore the worst of the volcano’s impact. Their 11.7 per cent drop in passenger traffic could not have come at a worse time. Europe’s slow recovery from the global financial crisis and its currency crisis are already a huge burden on the profitability of its airlines. The uncoordinated and excessive cancellations and unfairly onerous passenger care requirements rubbed salt into the European industry’s wounds,” said Bisignani.

The April drop in demand in Europe can be attributed to both the flight cancellations (two-thirds of the total decline) and follow-on cancellations due to uncertainty of the availability of air travel (one-third). Early indications for May show a rebound in travel from the disrupted levels in April.

North American carriers posted a 1.9 per cent decline in demand, primarily as a result of the impact of the ash crisis on North Atlantic routes.

Middle Eastern airlines recorded the strongest air traffic growth at 13.0 per cent, which is about half the 25.9 per cent increase of the previous month, Iata said. The region's carriers saw their cargo traffic growth rate slow to 25.9 per cent from the 35.5 per cent recorded in March.

The scale of the ash crisis saw global load factors drop to 76.9 per cent from the 78.0 per cent recorded in March. Freight load factors also dipped to 55.3 per cent from the 57.1 per cent recorded in the previous month. While March traffic was within 1 per cent of pre-crisis levels for both passenger and cargo, this slipped to 7 per cent for passenger and 3 per cent for cargo in April.

Looking ahead, Bisignani challenged Europe to reform its air traffic management. “The ash crisis was an embarrassing wake-up call for European governments. We need leadership to deliver the Single European Sky, fair passenger rights legislation and continent-wide coordination,” said Bisignani.

“The labour unrest plaguing Europe this year is unbelievable. It’s a tough competitive world. Airlines need to reduce costs to be competitive. Labour must realise that their pay checks are supported by the performance of the company. The middle of a very fragile recovery is not the time to be asking for salary increases or improved conditions. This mentality is divorced from reality,” concluded Bisignani.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Iata | Flights | travel | aviation | International Air Transport Association | ash cloud |

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