IATA: Strong Passenger Demand, Some Cargo Improvement

Global traffic results for April show that total passenger demand rose 6.1 percent while freight demand was 4.2 percent down on April 2011


Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for April showing that total passenger demand rose 6.1% while freight demand was 4.2% down on April 2011.

Despite continuing economic weakness in some parts of the world, demand for air travel continues to grow. The 6.1% overall growth recorded for April is above the 20-year trend. Strong demand for air travel with limited capacity expansion pushed load factors to 79.3% which is a record high for an April load factor.

The 4.2% contraction in air freight markets compared to April 2011 is somewhat misleading. Air freight markets slumped sharply in the first half of 2011 and bottomed out towards the end of the year. Various distortions and month-to-month volatility have marked the industry performance since the beginning of 2012. However, April cargo levels stood at about 2% higher than in November 2011. About 80% of this improvement has been captured by Middle Eastern airlines. Air freight for the Asia-Pacific, European and North American carriers has continued to show weakness.

“It’s a volatile and risky world. Airlines are being cautious managing through the uncertainty. Overall passenger demand was up 6.1% in April and capacity increases were held back to 3.8%. There are signs that cargo has bottomed out. Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world. But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium-term,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Apr 2012 vs. Apr 2011

RPK Growth 

ASK Growth

PLF

FTK Growth

AFTK Growth

International                    

7.4%

4.3%

79.1

-4.5%

0.2%

Domestic

3.9%

2.8%

79.7

-2.7%

-2.0%

Total Market

6.1%

3.8%

79.3

-4.2%

-0.3%

 

 YTD 2012 vs. YTD 2011

RPK Growth 

ASK Growth

PLF

FTK Growth

AFTK Growth

International                    

8.1%

5.2%

77.1

-2.5%

1.8%

Domestic

5.5%

4.4%

78.1

-0.9%

-1.4%

Total Market

7.1%

4.9%

77.5

-2.3%

1.1%

International Passenger Markets

International air travel rose 7.4% in April compared to the year-ago period, outstripping a capacity expansion of 4.3%. April load factors stood at 79.1%, up 2.3 percentage points from April 2011.

European airlines recorded passenger demand growth of 5.9%. This is below the 7.4% global average and is significantly lower than the 8.7% growth recorded in March. Demand was, however, stronger than the 3.4% capacity expansion which pushed load factors to 80.7%. While this is a relatively strong performance compared to previous-year levels, since the beginning of the year, there has been a declining trend. April, for example, saw traffic contract by 0.3% compared to March—despite the Easter holiday period being in mid-April.

Asia-Pacific carriers also experienced strong growth of 9.3% against a capacity expansion of 4.6%. Load factors stood at 78.1%. The strong performance is exaggerated by the comparison to April 2011 when Asia-Pacific markets were particularly weak in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Removing the impact of the event, the region’s growth is estimated to be about 6%.

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