Recovery in air traffic continues – passenger numbers surge past pre-GFC levels

Issues & Trends – July 2010

Recovery in air traffic continues – passenger numbers surge past pre-GFC levels

VINDICATING IATA predictions for 2010 profit turnaround (travelBulletin, June) IATA has announced international scheduled traffic statistics showing an 11.7 per cent increase in passenger traffic. The figures for May showed the increasing traffic volume is also driving higher load factors.

Said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani: “Demand rebounded strongly in May following the impact of the European volcanic ash fiasco in April. Passenger traffic is now one per cent above pre-recession levels.”
The load factor improvement came despite capacity increase of 4.8 per cent.

With the passenger increase well ahead of the boost to seat numbers, May’s international passenger load factor reached 76 per cent (78.7 per cent seasonally adjusted).

It was the sixth consecutive month with seasonally adjusted load factors near 79 per cent. “Matching capacity to demand will become increasingly challenging in the coming months,” predicted Bisignani.
“Aircraft utilisation remains five per cent below pre-recession levels for single-aisle aircraft and eight per cent for longer-range twin-aisle aircraft. The 100 aircraft taken out of storage during May and the 93 new aircraft delivered globally add further capacity pressure.”

Asia-Pacific carriers recorded a 13.2 per cent increase in demand in May 2010 compared to 2009 and continue to drive the recovery based on robust economic growth, primarily in China, says IATA.
However Latin American carriers recorded the fastest growth in demand at 23.6 per cent, supported by the region’s strong economic upturn.

North American carriers saw a 10.9 per cent increase in May driving the load factor to 82.4 per cent, higher than any other region.

European airlines, while still the region with the weakest growth, showed some improvement with an 8.3 per cent passenger increase compared to May 2009.

“Weak economic growth, questions over financial stability and sharply tightening fiscal policies will likely result in continued slower demand growth than is experienced in other parts of the world,” said Bisignani.
Middle Eastern carriers recorded a 17.5 per cent growth in May. The region’s carriers continue to post strong growth with connecting traffic through their hubs, although the pace of growth has dropped from the 20 per cent-plus increases recorded earlier in the year.

African carriers reported a demand increase of 16.9 per cent in May as the region’s carriers benefit from growing economies. At the same time, the region’s load factor was the weakest at 66.5 per cent.