Continues To Rise While Air Freight Takes A Dive
By Mike Mitchell
March 4, 2012 - The International Air Transport
Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for
January showing a 5.7% rise in passenger demand but an
8.0% decline in air freight compared to the same month
The occurrence of Chinese New Year in January (rather
than in February as in 2011) exaggerated the increase in
passenger demand and the fall in air freight. Stripping
this out, the underlying trend was for stronger
passenger growth, while stabilized weakness in cargo
IATA?s Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said ?The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilized, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel.
airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe?s
sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry?s
fortunes like the sword of Damocles.? Total January passenger
demand rose 5.7% compared to January 2011 a slight acceleration
from the 5.6% year over year increase recorded for December
2011. With January passenger capacity up 4.2%, average load
factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 76.6% compared to the same
month a year ago.
markets stood at 8% below January 2011 levels. The decline in
air freight stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2011, at levels
4% below the 2008 pre-crisis peak. There was a 2.5% fall in
global freight markets from December to January, but this is
almost totally attributable to the impact of factory closures
due to the Chinese New Year. Freight capacity contracted by 0.6%
year over year, and freight load factor fell to 41% (from 44.3%
in January 2011) as deliveries of new widebody passenger
aircraft offset measures to reduce freight capacity.
International air travel rose 5.5% in January year over year,
while capacity climbed 4.2%, resulting in a load factor of
76.6%, up from 75.7% in January 2011.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their traffic rise 6% in January
compared to 2011. Capacity climbed 6.4% and load factor dipped
slightly to 77.5%. Year on year traffic growth would have been
softer were it not for the Chinese New Year boost.
experienced a 5.3% gain in traffic versus January 2011. The persisting
economic weakness of the region resulted in a considerable drop from the
9.5% growth recorded in December despite the attractiveness of the weak
Euro to tourist traffic and export activity. The average load factor
strengthened to 75.7% on a 2.7% rise in capacity year over year;
however, the load factor is among the lowest of the regions.
airlines had a 0.3% dip in passenger traffic, but capacity dropped 0.9%,
pushing load factor up fractionally to 77.6%. Next to African carriers,
the passenger demand was the weakest performance.
Middle East airlines recorded double-digit traffic growth in January, posting a 14.5% increase. This was by far the largest rate of growth for any region and represents a return to the rates experienced in 2010. Capacity rose 10.6%. Load factor climbed 2.7 points to 78.5%, among the highest of the regions.
Latin American carriers continued to enjoy robust passenger demand. Traffic rose 7.9% in January compared to the same month last year, while capacity increased 7.4%. At 79.9%, the region?s carriers had the strongest load factor.
reported a 3.6% decline in demand and a 0.8% decline in capacity, with a
load factor of 64.8%, the lowest load factor among the regions. Although
sub-Saharan economies are showing strong economic growth, African
airlines are finding it difficult to capitalize on the trend.
outperformed international markets in aggregate as strong demand in
Brazil, China and India helped to push domestic traffic up 6.1% compared
to January 2011.
The impact of
Chinese New Year-related traffic was evidenced in China?s domestic
market, which surged 16.8% year over year on a 14.3% lift in capacity,
pushing load factor to 80.8%, the highest recorded for domestic traffic.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, traffic rose 3.2% compared to December.
The Chinese market now accounts for more than 21% of the total global
domestic traffic was nearly flat at 0.2%, but capacity contracted 1.5%,
pushing load factor to 78.1%.
was 8.9% below previous year levels, slightly more than the 8.3%
contraction in capacity. Year to year comparisons are affected by the
impact of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as industry
saw a 10.5% rise in demand while capacity climbed 14.8%.
Load factor was 74.9%, down 2.9 points from January 2011.
India traffic rose
8.8% year over year, while capacity expanded 12.8% and load factor was
74.9%. Demand rose 0.9% compared to December.
The decline in air
freight markets ended in the 2011 fourth quarter.
The January contraction largely was owing to the Chinese New Year
and resulted in international demand falling 8.1% while domestic markets
European airlines bore the brunt of the international decline, down 14%
and 9.6% respectively compared to January 2011. In addition to the
impact of the holiday, the peripheral economies in Europe have been in
recession and attracting little inbound freight. Until recently this had
been offset by strong outbound traffic flows from Northern European
carriers enjoyed a 9.4% rise in demand, the healthiest performance among
the regions. North American airlines? demand dropped 4.0%. Latin
American carriers? traffic climbed 2.2% while African carriers saw a
3.7% decline compared to the year-ago period.
airline in today?s uncertain economic climate is a tough job. Some
well-known names?Spanair and Malev?disappeared in January. At the same
time, we know that demand for air travel will grow as the global economy
recovers and requires even greater connectivity. The billions of dollars
in commercial orders placed at the recent Singapore Airshow demonstrate
that airlines are strategically investing to meet that demand with
ever-more fuel efficient and environmentally-sustainable aircraft,? said
industry is a catalyst for economic growth. Governments should keep this
in mind in their policy initiatives. Measures to boost competitiveness
not taxes or restrictions are immediately needed, along with a long-term
vision to support sustainable economic growth through much needed
infrastructure investments. This includes the Single European Sky, the
Federal Aviation Administration?s NextGen, Seamless Asian Skies and
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