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Global air traffic up 16.5pc in April

Singapore, June 2, 2011

International air passenger demand for April showed a growth of 16.5 per cent compared to the same month in 2010, according to a report.

While this is exaggerated by the comparison to April 2010 during which European airspace was closed due to the volcanic ash crisis, international travel markets in April had grown to reach a level 7 per cent higher than the pre-recession peak of early 2008, explained the report released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

The increase in air traffic was met by a 16.8 per cent increase in global capacity. Passenger load factors fell slightly from 76.8 per cent in April 2010 to 76.7 per cent in April this year.

International freight grew by 5.4 per cent against a capacity increase of 12.3 per cent, pushing the freight load factor down from 55.3 per cent in April 2010 to 51.9 per cent in April 2011.

Domestic markets showed 4.7 per cent growth over the previous year, outpacing a capacity increase of 3.1 per cent, pushing the passenger load factor to 78.8 per cent.

Domestic freight markets showed a 9.3 per cent fall in freight traffic against a capacity decrease of 1.0 per cent resulting in an average load factor for the month of 26.8 per cent.

“Demand improved significantly in April. Eliminating all distortions, we are growing at 3-4 per cent. International traffic is now 7 per cent above the early 2008 pre-recession levels, load factors are hovering around 77 per cent and business confidence is high. Unfortunately two things are spoiling the party—demand shocks and high jet fuel prices,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s director general and CEO.

“Despite the enormous restructuring over the last decade, the industry is not shock-proof. Profits are being squeezed by the succession of crises and shocks that have marked the first four months of this year.”

“Their impact on demand will continue to ease as we move into the second half. But maintaining the high load factors needed to support profitable growth will be difficult given the ongoing challenge of matching capacity to volatile demand,” said Bisignani.

International passenger markets

Middle East carriers reported a 12.1 per cent increase in international markets, more than double the 5.3 per cent recorded for March, indicating a return of confidence to the region’s long-haul operations.

While political unrest in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria continued through the month, the impact was small as the three markets combined account for only 6 per cent of Middle East traffic.

African carriers saw a modest 1.2 per cent growth in international markets compared to April 2010. This is significantly better than the 7.1 per cent decrease recorded in March due to more stability returning to North Africa.

While the number of flights operated to/from Egypt and Tunisia is down by about a quarter compared to last year, about half of February’s 18 per cent loss in traffic in these two markets has been recovered. Libyan airspace remains closed.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw 5.1 per cent growth in international markets, reversing the 0.6 per cent drop in March, while North American carriers are seeing much stronger demand in international markets than in domestic, for which the US carriers reported 1.2 per cent growth.

European carriers reported a 29.3 per cent spike, due mostly to the comparison to April 2010 which was severely impacted by the volcanic ash crisis. Latin American carriers saw a 25.9 per cent increase in international demand in April, higher than the 22.7 per cent recorded in March.

Freight on African carriers contracted by 5.8 per cent due to the aftermath of the political unrest in the region.

Asia-Pacific carriers also saw a contraction, but by a smaller 2.5 per cent, due to disruptions in the supply chains for autos and electronics in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Domestic markets have been the weakest segment of air travel over the past nine months.

Japanese domestic travel was 31 per cent below previous year levels in the aftermath of March’s earthquake and tsunami.

With the US reporting sluggish growth of 1.2 per cent, and China’s domestic market also seeing a decline in growth to 10.8 per cent in April, Brazil and India showed the strongest domestic growth at 23.8 per cent and 25.6 per cent respectively.

Global air transport leaders are gathering in Singapore for the Iata annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit from June 5 to 7, who are expected to discuss the many issues facing the global air transport industry.

Topics on the agenda include the search for sustainable profitability, security and environment. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Iata | Singapore | freight | domestic market | Passenger Demand | Global air traffic | April 2011 |

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