Demand Decline slows
-But No Recovery
Geneva - The International Air
Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data for
April showing a 3.1% decline in passenger demand and a 21.7% fall in
cargo demand compared to April 2008. The average passenger load factor
stood at 74.4%.
While April’s 3.1% passenger demand drop was a clear
improvement compared to the -11.1% fall in March, this improvement should
be viewed with caution. Easter holidays, which fell in the month of
April, positively skews the data by at least 2%. Traffic gains were at
the expense of yields in most regions. And preliminary data for May
suggests a renewed double digit decline, at least for European airlines.
Freight demand appears to have found a solid floor with a
fifth consecutive month at more than 20% below previous year levels.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Giovanni
Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The demand improvements that
we saw in April are welcome. But the 3.1% decline in passenger demand
still outstripped the 2.5% cutback in capacity. There is no improvement
in revenues as yields continue to fall. And freight remains at shockingly
low levels. The worst may be over. However, we have not yet seen any
signs that recovery is imminent,” said Bisignani.
International Passenger Demand
passenger demand declined by 3.1% in April.
factors improved to 74.4% in April (compared to 72.1% in March);
however this is slightly distorted by high volume holiday travel. Forward
schedules show a return to previous-year capacity levels by the end
of the third quarter. Without a corresponding sharp improvement in
demand, load factors are likely to decline rather than improve.
Pacific carriers continued to see the most significant
demand deterioration. Their 8.6% fall outstripped capacity
adjustments of -7.4%.
acceleration of fare discounting saw demand increase on North
Atlantic routes. North
American carriers, who experienced a 13.4% drop in
demand in March, saw this reduced to -4.2% in April. The capacity
adjustment of -4.0% much more closely matched the fall in demand
than in March when there was a 7.7 percentage point gap.
- For European carriers,
the 11.6% decline in passenger demand reported for March improved to
-2.7% in April, closely matching the capacity adjustment of -2.6%.
Eastern carriers saw demand growth in April of
11.2%, against a capacity expansion of 12.3%.
American carriers saw demand expand by 7.5%,
outstripping a capacity increase of 6.0%. Nonetheless, Latin
American carriers recorded the weakest load factor, 71.2%.
carriers experienced a 7.1% fall in demand, outpacing
the capacity cut of 5.0%.
International Cargo Demand
- Air freight
continues at very weak levels. International cargo was down 21.7% in
April compared to previous year levels. This is the fifth
consecutive month in the -20% range. This sideways progression may
indicate that we have seen the worst of the economic downturn.
Business confidence is improving, but inventories remain high. Until
inventories adjust to more normal levels, air freight volumes will
likely continue to bounce along the bottom.
- Carriers in
all regions showed double digit declines. Middle Eastern carriers were
the strongest performers at -11.1%. European, North American, Asia-Pacific and
African carriers had similar performance of -23.3%, -22.4%, -22.3%
and –18.8% respectively. Latin
American carriers were the worst performers at
“With each day of the recession, the challenges for the
air transport industry are mounting. Flexibility has never been more
important. But there is not enough of it. Airlines remain constrained by
old rules that restrict basic commercial freedoms such as access to
markets and capital. Much of the cost base remains out of our
control—from volatile fuel prices to monopoly infrastructure charges. And
many governments simply don’t understand the need for urgent change. We
need a change in mindset. To manage through this ongoing crisis, every
player in the air transport value chain must be prepared to drive
change,” said Bisignani.
The 65th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air
Transport Summit will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 7-9 June.
On the agenda of the 600 industry leaders expected to attend will be the
industry’s top priorities, including safety, environment, infrastructure
charges, taxation and liberalization. Working journalists are invited to
attend this by-invitation-only event. Registration and program
information can be found on the AGM website: www.iata.org/events/agm/2009/newsroom
full April traffic results
Director Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967
Notes for Editors:
(International Air Transport Association) represents some 230
airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
of measurement terms:
Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic
Available Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity
Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2009 to
2008, PLF indicates point differential between the periods compared
Freight Tonne Kilometres measures actual freight traffic
Available Tonne Kilometres measures available total capacity
(combined passenger and cargo)
statistics cover international scheduled air traffic; domestic
traffic is not included.
- All figures
are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication
plus estimates for missing data.
passenger traffic market shares by region in terms of RPK are:
Europe 33.8%, Asia Pacific 31.1%, North America 17.5%, Middle East
11.1%, Latin America 4.8%, Africa 1.8%
freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are: Asia
Pacific 43.8%, Europe 26.8%, North America 16.3%, Middle East 10.1%,
Latin America 2.1%, Africa 0.9