Global air travel, freight demand on the decline
Rome, October 3, 2011
International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that the airline industry was shifting gears downward amid a slow pace of growth in air passenger demand and decline in freight markets in August.
While passenger demand was up 4.5 per cent over the previous August, this represents a significant slowing from the 6 per cent recorded in July, said IATA announcing traffic results for August.
On the freight industry, the IATA said the 3.8 per cent contraction recorded in August was more than double the pace of July’s 1.8 per cent decline.
The air transport body pointed out that comparisons of July to August more clearly indicated the slowdown. 'The total passenger market fell by 1.6 per cent in August compared to July.'
International markets declined by 1.8 per cent, while already weak domestic markets shrank by one per cent. The total cargo market fell by 1.3 per cent, the report said.
According to IATA, the passenger load factors were high at 81.4 per cent, almost as high as in July.
'While this is close to historically high levels reflecting the industry’s ability to efficiently allocate capacity, it too showed weakness - falling by 1.3 per cent compared to July,' it added.
European airlines achieved the strongest growth in international passenger traffic in August with a 7.9 per cent increase, just slightly below a capacity expansion of 8.2 per cent.
Middle Eastern carriers recorded the second highest demand growth at 6.7 per cent, behind capacity expansion of 7.6%, leaving load factors down at 76.2 per cent.
North American carriers reported the weakest performance with growth of just 2.9 per cent, which was partly a result of equally slow growth in capacity, the report added.
In the other regions, Asia-Pacific carriers reported 5.3 per cent demand growth for August, slightly below a 5.6 per cent capacity expansion.
This is slightly better than the year-to-date growth of 4.4 per cent, reflecting the recovery in Japanese international travel. Load factors of 78.9 per cent were below the industry average of 81.2 per cent, said the report.
Latin American carriers reported 5.6 per cent growth for August, behind their 7.1 per cent capacity expansion, while African airlines saw a 5.2 per cent demand in growth against a capacity expansion of 6.3 per cent.
The African continent’s carriers had the lowest load factor at 70 per cent.
According to IATA, the year-to-date domestic demand was up 3.6 per cent on 2010. However, domestic demand in August shrank by one per cent compared to July, which brought the August 2011 growth rate down to 1.5 per cent.
“The industry has shifted gears downward. The pace of growth in passenger markets has dipped and the freight business is now shrinking at a faster pace. With business and consumer confidence continuing to slump globally there is not a lot of optimism for improved conditions any time soon,” said Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO.-TradeArabia News Service