2009: Worst Demand Decline in History
Geneva - The International Air Transport Association
(IATA) reported December and full-year 2009 demand statistics for
international scheduled air traffic that showed the industry ending 2009
with the largest ever post-war decline. Passenger demand for the full
year was down 3.5% with an average load factor of 75.6%. Freight showed a
full-year decline of 10.1% with an average load factor of 49.1%.
“In terms of demand, 2009 goes into the history books as
the worst year the industry has ever seen. We have permanently lost 2.5
years of growth in passenger markets and 3.5 years of growth in the
freight business,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and
International passenger capacity fell 0.7% in December
2009 while freight capacity grew 0.6% above December 2008 levels. Yields
have started to improve with tighter supply-demand conditions in recent
months, but they remained 5-10% down on 2008 levels. “Revenue
improvements will be at a much slower pace than the demand growth that we
are starting to see. Profitability will be even slower to recover and
airlines will lose an expected US$5.6 billion in 2010,” said Bisignani.
Seasonally adjusted demand figures for December compared
to November 2009 indicate a 1.6% rise in passenger traffic while freight
remained basically flat with a 0.2% decline.
December 2009 passenger demand recorded a 4.5% improvement compared to
December 2008, with a load factor of 77.6%. While this is an 8.4% demand
improvement from the February 2009 low point, it is still 3.4% below the
early 2008 peak.
- Carriers in
Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America recorded
year-on-year declines in passenger demand of 5.6%, 5.0% and 5.6%
respectively in 2009. Asia-Pacific carriers stand out as benefitting
most from the year-end upturn with an 8.0% year-on-year improvement
in December. This reflects their 35% contribution to the year-end
rise boosted by the significant economic upturn in the region. By
contrast, European carriers saw a 1.2% decline and North American
carriers declined by 0.4%. While both North American and European
carriers saw demand improvements in the first half of the year, the
second half was basically flat.
Eastern carriers generated the fastest growth in
passenger traffic at the end of the year with a 19.1% increase in
December (and 11.2% growth for the entire year). These gains result
from Middle Eastern carriers taking a larger share of long-haul
connecting traffic over their hubs.
American carriers recorded 7.1% growth in December.
Full-year traffic growth was constrained to 0.3% due to the impact
of Influenza A(H1N1) fears during the second and third quarters.
carriers experienced a sharp decline of 6.8% in 2009
primarily on an exceptionally weak first half. Their year ended with
December demand at 3.1% above previous year levels.
International Freight Demand
December 2009 freight demand showed a 24.4% improvement on December 2008
with a load factor of 54.1%. This improvement is exaggerated by the
exceptionally weak performance in December 2008 which was the low point
on the cycle. Freight demand is still 9% lower than the peak in early
2008. Optimism is returning to the industry as purchasing managers survey
indicators reached a 44-month high in December pointing towards increased
freight volumes in the coming months.
carriers accounted for over 60% of the increase in
international air freight markets over the past 12
months—outperforming their 45% market share. Despite this
improvement, Asia-Pacific carriers’ freight volumes remain 8% below
carriers remain 20% below 2008 peak levels reflecting
the glacial pace of economic recovery in Europe compared to
- Middle East
carriers and Latin American carriers are smaller
market participants, but ended the year better than peak levels by
7% and 21% respectively.
“The industry starts 2010 with some enormous challenges.
The worst is behind us, but it is not time to celebrate. Adjusting to
2.5-3.5 years of lost growth means that airlines face another spartan
year focused on matching capacity carefully to demand and controlling
costs,” said Bisignani.
“We also face a renewed challenge on security as a result
of the events of 25 December 2009. The approach of the Obama administration
is encouraging with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano visiting IATA’s offices in Geneva to engage industry to find
solutions. We agreed that governments and industry must cooperate and we
are preparing for a meeting in the coming weeks to follow-up on our
recommendations which focused on finding more efficient ways to implement
intelligence-driven and risk-based security measures,” said Bisignani.
“Governments and industry are aligned in the priority that
we place on security. But the cost of security is also an issue.
Globally, airlines spend US$5.9 billion a year on what are essentially
measures concerned with national security. This is the responsibility of
governments, and they should be picking up the bill,” said Bisignani.
View full December traffic results
- IATA -
For more information, please contact:
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 Freight Tonne Kilometres measures available total freight
Freight Load Factor is % of AFTKs used
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. Historic figures may be
passenger traffic market shares by region in terms of RPK are:
Europe 34.7%, Asia-Pacific 29.8%, North America 17.8%, Middle East
11.5%, Latin America 4.5%, Africa 1.8%
freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are:
Asia-Pacific 44.8%, Europe 25.3%, North America 16.6%, Middle East
10.2%, Latin America 2.2%, Africa 1.0%