Cargo Plummets 22.6% in December
Geneva - The International
Air Transport Association (IATA) released international scheduled traffic
results for both December 2008 and the full-year.
In the month of December global international cargo
traffic plummeted by 22.6% compared to December 2007. The same comparison
for international passenger traffic showed a 4.6% drop. The international
load factor stood at 73.8%.
For the full-year 2008, international cargo traffic was
down 4.0%, passenger traffic showed a modest increase of 1.6%, and the
international load factor stood at 75.9%.
“The 22.6% free fall in global cargo is unprecedented and
shocking. There is no clearer description of the slowdown in world trade.
Even in September 2001, when much of the global fleet was grounded, the
decline was only 13.9%,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General
and CEO.” Air cargo carries 35% of the value of goods traded
Bolstered by year-end advance-booked leisure travel, the
4.6% decline in December passenger demand was less dramatic than the fall
in cargo. A 1.5% cutback in supply could not keep pace with falling
demand, resulting in a 2.4% decline in the December load factor to 73.8%.
“Airlines are struggling to match capacity with fast-falling demand.
Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot
save the industry from drowning in red ink,” said Bisignani.
“Yields are also under attack with a sharp drop in
November premium traffic,” said Bisignani. For November, IATA reported an
11.5% drop in the number of premium tickets issued globally.
traffic results show a 1.6% increase in demand
which is dramatically down from the 7.4% recorded in 2007. Capacity
grew by 3.5% resulting in a full-year average load factor of 75.9%
(down from the 77.3% recorded for 2007)
is a regional summary for December traffic:
Pacific carriers saw the sharpest decline in
December international traffic at 9.7%. They also registered the
sharpest reduction in capacity, but at 5.6%, this is lagging behind
the drop in demand. Load factors sank to 72.6%. The economic
turmoil in the region is widespread. December export volumes fell
20% for Singapore and 35% for Japan. Korean GDP showed a 5.5%
contraction. While China’s economy continues to grow, recently released
GDP figures show that it is at a much lower pace. As a result,
traffic in the region continues to be the hardest hit.
carriers saw demand for international travel fall by
2.7% while capacity declined by 1.5%. Load factors stood at the global
average of 73.8%. With business confidence indicators pointing to a
10% decline in industrial production and a 20% fall in trade, there
is little reason for optimism.
American airlines saw December demand drop by 4.3%,
far outstripping the 0.7% cut in international capacity. While
North American carriers had made early cuts in domestic capacity of
about 10%, this is the first month registering a cut in
international operations. Nonetheless, the region recorded the
highest load factor at 78.1%.
carriers continued to see their traffic fall, despite
more robust economies and travel to the continent than other
regions. International passenger traffic declined 4.6% in December.
The 2.1% reduction in capacity left load factors at 68.5%, the
lowest among the regions.
American airlines recorded a 1.1% increase in
December demand and a 3.2% increase in capacity. With North
American commodities demand and trade falling so sharply, the
months ahead are likely to be more difficult for airlines in this
in the Middle East showed a 3.9% increase in demand
in December, far below the 10% capacity increase. The region’s
carriers ended five years of double-digit growth with full-year
demand growing by 7.0% (compared to 18.1% recorded for 2007).
Growth will continue to slow in 2009 as oil revenues and long-haul
hub connection traffic are now both in decline.
- Full year
international air freight traffic contracted
4.0% for the year compared to 4.3% growth in 2007.
- December saw an
unprecedented 22.6% decline in air freight volumes, compared with
the previous year. All regions showed major declines.
collapse in the airline industry’s freight business is a reflection
of 20-30% declines in export and import volumes being reported
across Asia, North America and Europe as the global recession plumbs
new depths in December.
carriers, accounting for 45% of international cargo,
led the December decline with a 26.0% contraction compared to the
previous year. Latin
American carriers saw cargo drop 23.7%; North American carriers
22.2% and European
carriers 21.2%. Single-digit declines were recorded
Eastern carriers (-9.2%) and African carriers
“2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever
for international aviation. The 22.6% drop in international cargo traffic
in December puts us in un-charted territory and the bottom is nowhere in
sight. Keep your seatbelts fastened and prepare for a bumpy ride and a
hard landing,” said Bisignani.
Airlines registered a US$5 billion loss in 2008. For 2009
IATA is forecasting a further loss of US$2.5 billion based on a fuel
price of US$60 per barrel, a decline of 3.0% in passenger volumes, a drop
of 5.0% in cargo traffic and yield deterioration of 3.0%. Industry
revenues are expected to contract by US$35 billion (from US$536 billion
in 2008 to US$501 billion in 2009).
In the face of this economic crisis, IATA is calling for
major structural changes to the industry. “We don’t want bail-outs. But
we need to change the ownership rules. Almost every other business has
the freedom to access to global capital and the ability to merge across
borders where it makes sense. To manage in this crisis, airlines need the
same management tools,” said Bisignani.
View November premium traffic (pdf)
View full 2008 traffic results
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
- ASK: Available
Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity
Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2007 to
2006, PLF indicates point differential between the periods
- FTK: 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 34.1%, Asia Pacific 31.1%, North America 18.7%, Middle East 9.2%,
Latin America 4.5%, Africa 2.4%
freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are: Asia
Pacific 44.5%, Europe 27.4%, North America 16.9%, Middle East 7.9%,
Latin America 2.1%, Africa 1.2%