Freight Stabilizes, Passenger Drops
Geneva - The International
Air Transport Association (IATA) today announced international traffic
statistics for the month of February showing continuing deterioration in
Passenger volumes fell sharply to 10.1% below 2008 levels
(from the -5.6% recorded in January). The 5.9% reduction in
capacity - the most aggressive since the crisis began - could not keep
pace with the fall in demand, pushing the February load factor down to
69.9% (3.2 percentage points below the same month in the previous year).
February international freight volumes were 22.1% below
2008 levels. This is the third consecutive month at more than 20% below
previous year levels (-23.2 in January and -22.6% in December).
“Gloom continues. The sharp drop in February passenger
traffic shows the broadening scope of the crisis. Freight traffic, which
began its decline in June 2008 before passenger markets were hit, has now
had three consecutive months in the -22% to -23% range. We may have found
a bottom to the freight decline, but the magnitude of the drop means that
it will take time to recover,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director
General and CEO.
- The decline
in demand for international travel outpaced capacity adjustments in
carriers saw the largest demand decline (-13.7%),
outpacing even the most aggressive capacity cuts (-11.8%).
carriers saw passenger traffic decline by 12.8%, far
outstripping the -7.8% capacity adjustment. The region’s export dependant
economies continue to suffer, impacting both business and leisure
travel - particularly to long-haul destinations. While this may be
somewhat exaggerated by Chinese New Year (which took place in
January 2009 and February 2008), the sharp downward drop from the
-8.4% recorded in January shows the deepening impact of the crisis
on this region.
American carriers recorded a 12.0% drop in demand,
also outpacing an aggressive -7.1% capacity adjustment. Consumer
confidence remains low in what is traditionally a weak month for
carriers saw traffic fall in line with the global
average at -10.1%. Long-haul markets to the US and Asia have been
particularly hard hit reflecting negative economic sentiment such as
that seen in Germany where business confidence hit new lows in both
February and again this month.
American carriers most closely matched demand drops
(-3.8%) with capacity adjustment (-2.4%). A slowdown in commodities
is impacting trade - particularly with the US and Asia.
- Middle East
carriers bucked the trend of falling demand with an
increase of 0.4% in international passenger traffic. But an
aggressive capacity increase of 7.3% drove load factors down 4.7
percentage points to 68.1%.
- All cargo
markets saw extremely weak demand continue as a result of the
collapse in international trade in goods and the much lower shipment
of components by manufacturers. However, the level of air
freight appears to have found a floor over the past three months.
The recently released Eurozone Purchase Managers Indices, being
useful forward looking indicators for cargo traffic, showed a slight
and unexpected improvement in March - although it remained in
Eastern carriers experienced the smallest fall in demand
(-4.8%). They were also the only region to increase capacity
carriers had the worst performance with a 30.7% drop
in international freight traffic due to a loss of market share on
long-haul routes combined with the impact of the economic downturn.
carriers - the largest players in cargo - saw demand
fall by 24.7% as the region’s high-value export-dependant industries
were hard hit by falling consumer demand in the major markets of
Europe, the US and Japan. Japanese exports have almost halved
from February 2008 levels.
and North American carriers saw cargo demand decline
23.1% and 21.8% respectively. Government stimulus plans have not yet
rekindled consumer demand.
American carriers experienced a demand drop of 22.8%
driven by weakening demand for the region’s commodities.
Bisignani reminded governments that air transport is a
catalyst for economic activity and called for policy changes to help them
to stimulate economies by playing this role effectively. “Governments
are spending trillions to bailout the banks and trillions more to
stimulate economies. By comparison, our requests to governments are
cost-effective and cheap. First, air transport needs a tax structure that
will help preserve industry jobs and allow air transport to play its role
as a catalyst for broad economic activity. Governments must repeal the
US$6.9 billion in new taxes put on the industry in 2009 to help pay for
banking bailouts - despite being branded as environmental measures. More
broadly governments must replace the mindset of taxing aviation as a
luxury or a sin with a strategic approach that recognises and fosters the
industry’s critical economic role in connecting people to business and
products to markets. Second, airlines need the commercial freedoms to be
able to merge or consolidate where it makes business sense - even across
national borders,” said Bisignani.
Bisignani also warned that the burden of the crisis
requires an industry response. “This is not just an airline crisis.
Efficiency must be a priority for the entire value chain. A 25% reduction
in landing charges at Singapore Changi Airport and a 50% reduction at
Malaysian Airports are major steps in the right direction. These are
model programmes for others to follow,” said Bisignani.
“The priority for airlines around the world is survival -
conserving cash and adjusting capacity to match demand. This means
re-sizing and re-shaping the industry to deal with the US$62 billion
(12%) fall in revenues expected this year. Airlines will be making some
tough decisions to stay afloat as we head for industry losses of US$4.7
billion in 2009,” said Bisignani.
View full February 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
Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2007 to
2006, PLF indicates point differential between the periods
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 32.5%, Asia Pacific 32.5%, North America 17.2%, Middle East
10.9%, Latin America 5.1%, Africa 1.9%
freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are: Asia
Pacific 42.9%, Europe 27.0%, North America 16.7%, Middle East 10.3%,
Latin America 2.2%, Africa 0.9%