IATA: Strong February Performance, But Outlook Remains Fragile

Global traffic results show an 8.6 percent improvement in passenger demand and a 5.2 percent rise in cargo demand


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released global traffic results for February 2012 showing an 8.6% improvement in passenger demand and a 5.2% rise in cargo demand compared to the same month in the previous year.

Several factors inflated February 2012 results and distorted comparisons with the year-ago period. These included weaker traffic during the Arab Spring a year ago and the occurrence of Carnival in Brazil in February, a month earlier than in 2011. Cargo demand was also subject to positive distortion by the occurrence of Chinese New Year in January which pushed some deliveries into February. When comparing to January 2012 levels, the picture becomes much more moderate, with passenger demand growing by 0.4% and cargo demand declining by 1.2%.

Global passenger capacity expanded by 7.4% compared to previous-year levels, lagging behind the 8.6% increase in demand. This has had a positive impact on load factors, which airlines have maintained at 75.3%—better than the 74.4% recorded in February 2011.

Freight demand continued to be relatively stable. This trend started to develop in September 2011 and is consistent with improvements in business confidence.

“The outlook is fragile. Improvements in business confidence slowed in February. This will limit the potential for business class travel growth and it implies that an uptick for cargo is not imminent. At the same time, airlines trying to recoup rising fuel costs could risk reduced volumes on price sensitive market segments. Weak economic conditions and rising fuel costs are a double-whammy that an industry anticipating a 0.5% margin can ill-afford,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

 

Feb 2012 vs. Feb 2011

RPK Growth 

ASK Growth

PLF

FTK Growth

AFTK Growth

International                    

9.3%

7.3%

74.4

5.1%

7.7%

Domestic

7.6%

7.5%

76.7

5.7%

4.1%

Total Market

8.6%

7.4%

75.3

5.2%

6.9%

 

 YTD 2012 vs. YTD 2011

RPK Growth 

ASK Growth

PLF

FTK Growth

AFTK Growth

International                    

7.3%

5.6%

75.6

-1.6%

3.1%

Domestic

7.0%

5.8%

76.7

-0.4%

2.2%

Total Market

7.2%

5.7%

76.0

-1.5%

2.9%

International Passenger Markets

International air travel stood 9.3% above February 2011 levels. Capacity expanded by 7.3% and load factors stood at 74.4%. It should be noted that except for Asia-Pacific, all regions saw demand expand ahead of capacity when compared to February 2011.

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