Japan and MENA events undercut air traffic growth, economy class growth ‘weak’

Japan and MENA events undercut air traffic growth, economy class growth ‘weak’

Growth in air travel has slowed to 3.8% in March due to the Japanese earthquake and disruption in the Middle East and Africa. Global passenger demand dropped 0.3% in March compared to the same month last year, which also signalled a 2% decrease compared to February 2011, according to statistics released by IATA. Events during the month cut international travel by 1.9%, with Egypt and Tunisia experiencing traffic 10-25% below March’s usual figures. However despite the decline in traffic, capacity expanded by 8.6%, although this registered a 3.5% fall in average load factor to 74.6%. European carriers specifically witnessed a 1.9% fall in demand from February to March despite a 0.5% rise in capacity. However, load factors sat above average at 75.3% and long haul business is said to be strong. IATA said that 2011’s second quarter would continue to see ‘depressed’ air travel trends but the economic growth was encouraging for the market. “The big uncertainty is the price of oil. Even in the US$120 a barrel range, it appears that strong economic growth in markets outside of Europe is continuing,” explained Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive of IATA. “We see this in the strong demand from business for premium travel which maintained 7.7% growth through February. But many leisure travellers are putting off flying because of the impact of high oil prices. The fragility of the situation is demonstrated by the considerably weaker 3.3% year-on-year growth in economy class travel in February. And, despite efficiency gains, the industry’s 1.4% profit margin leaves it vulnerable in the face of volatile markets.”

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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