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IATA reports rising demand

IATA is reporting that global traffic results for April saw total passenger demand rise by 6.1% despite the continuing economic weakness in some parts of the world. The 6.1% overall growth recorded for April is above the 20-year trend. Strong demand for air travel with limited capacity expansion pushed load factors to 79.3% which is a record high for an April load factor. IATA’s director general and CEO, Tony Tyler said: “It’s a volatile and risky world. Airlines are being cautious managing through the uncertainty. Overall passenger demand was up 6.1% in April and capacity increases were held back to 3.8%. There are signs that cargo has bottomed out. Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world. But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium-term.” IATA noted that international air travel rose by 7.4% in April compared to the year-ago period, outstripping a capacity expansion of 4.3%. April load factors stood at 79.1%, up 2.3 percentage points from April 2011. European airlines recorded passenger demand growth of 5.9%. This is below the 7.4% global average and is significantly lower than the 8.7% growth recorded in March. Demand was, however, stronger than the 3.4% capacity expansion which pushed load factors to 80.7%. 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. Asia-Pacific carriers also experienced strong growth of 9.3% against a capacity expansion of 4.6%. Load factors stood at 78.1%. The strong performance is exaggerated by the comparison to April 2011 when Asia-Pacific markets were particularly weak in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Removing the impact of the event, the region’s growth is estimated to be about 6%. North American airlines saw passenger demand expand by 1.6% in April compared to the previous year. This is the weakest demand growth among all regions and represents a weakening from the 5.3% year-on-year growth recorded in March. However, the trend in North American travel is still positive since the end of 2011, as US economic conditions and particularly consumer confidence has improved. North American carriers were also the only region to cut capacity (by an almost equal 1.5%). This allowed the region’s carriers to post the strongest load factors at 80.8%. Go to http://www.iata.org for more.

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