Increase in international air travel
June 4th, 2012 by elisa

Positive news for airlines as new figures show that international air travel has risen by over 7% compared to last year. It also exceeds the 4.3% increase in capacity this year.

Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that air travel worldwide is above the 20-year trend with a 6.1% increase in April. This pushed load factors to 79.3%, a rise of 2.3 percentage points.

Despite such impressive figures, IATA expressed a note of caution: “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.”

A 5.9% increase in European Airline passenger numbers was lower than the 8.7% growth in March, yet still higher than the 3.4% capacity increase. The greatest growth was recorded by Middle East airlines, which has had a 16% increase year on year.

However, airline profitability is still an issue. IATA director-general Tony Tyler commented on the figures: “The growth in passenger markets is encouraging. But it comes against an environment of continuing high oil prices and growing economic uncertainty. So translating the stronger demand into profits will be difficult.

“In the face of economic uncertainty, many airline managements will be going back to first principles—careful capacity management, cost control and conserving cash. This will be the order of the day until some clarity comes to the global economic outlook. Of course the uncertainty impacts the whole value chain. We are all in this together. Airlines will be particularly looking to their industry partners to share the imperative on cost control.”


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