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Global air passenger travel increases in January

March 2, 2010, Montreal - Global demand for air travel continued to show signs of improvement as passenger demand increased by 6.4 per cent in January, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday.


March 2, 2010
By The Canadian Press

The annual increase in demand came as capacity grew by 1.2 per cent and planes flew nearly 76 per cent full, up from 72.2 per cent a year earlier.

Cargo demand grew by 28.3 per cent, with only a 3.7 per cent increase in capacity.

January's large increase in passenger demand compared to a period in early 2009 that sustained a precipitous fall. Seasonally adjusted demand was just 0.5 per cent higher than December 2009. Air freight volumes increased by three per cent over the previous month.

"Airlines have lost two to three years of growth. Demand is moving in the right direction,'' said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of IATA.

Bisignani said the month over month increase in freight was particularly encouraging but improved volumes don't necessarily mean better profits.

Passenger yields (revenues per seat mile flown) were still 15 per cent below their peak and the association expects international airlines will lose US$5.6 billion in 2010.

The strongest improvements in demand came in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where the economic recovery has been the strongest.

Compared to the low of February, passenger traffic is up 8.6 per cent, but two percentage points below the peak of early 2008.

North American airlines saw demand increase by 2.1 per cent in January. Europe grew by 3.1 per cent. Both regions were six percentage points higher than the lows but four to six points below the peak.

The reflects a jobless recovery as consumers are focused on paying down debt, IATA said.

Asia-Pacific carriers experienced a 6.5 per cent increase in demand. Demand by Middle Eastern carriers accelerated to 23.6 per cent in January.

Latin American carriers saw demand increase by 11 per cent.

African carriers recorded a 6.3 per cent improvement.

IATA represents some 230 airlines that fly 93 per cent of scheduled international air traffic.