The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced traffic results for May which show a 6.8% global increase in passenger traffic over May 2010, 8.0% for international and 4.8% for domestic. Between January and May, international traffic rose 8.4%, with domestic rising by 4.2% [= all measured on a revenue per kilometre basis-Ed].
“We saw positive developments for the air transport volumes in May, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and Ceo. International passenger load factors rebounded by 0.8 percentage points to 75.8%. Freight volumes improved by 1.2% over April and passenger volumes were up by 1.8%.
“These will help to alleviate some of the pressure on profits from continued high fuel prices,” he said.
“But there are risks associated with political unrest in the Middle East and the European currency crisis. We still expect the industry to make $4 billion this year. That is a pathetic 0.7% margin and another shock could alter the industry’s fortunes dramatically. It’s another tough year for a very fragile industry,” said Bisignani.
PASSENGER MARKETS BY REGION
African airlines’ international traffic increased by 1.1% in May 2011 compared with May 2010. Travel markets to the region were depressed by the impact of political unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, with flight numbers to these two destinations still down by around 20%. However, IATA says that ‘a significant 2.2 percentage point improvement in the load factor for the month’ does show initial signs of improvement.
Asia-Pacific carriers recorded an expansion of 4.7%, considerably below the global average of 8.0%. This was due to continuing weakness in the post-earthquake/tsunami Japanese market. Compared to May 2010, capacity expanded by 5.0% and the load factor fell slightly to 73.4%.
European carriers’ traffic expanded by 10.9%, boosted by increased northern European economic activity and a weaker Euro encouraging trade and inbound travel. Capacity expanded by 10.6%, second only to Latin America, and the load factor strengthened to 77.7%.
Latin American carriers saw the fastest international growth, up 21.3% compared to May 2010, and the fastest capacity expansion (15.2%). IATA says this is a consequence of strong economic growth and increased travel and trade flows to North America and across the Pacific. The load factor was just above the industry average at 76.0%.
Middle East carriers grew international traffic by 7.8% over May 2010, slightly below a 9.6% capacity expansion that saw load factors slip to 70.8%. While political unrest continues to have a dramatic impact on several of the region’s smaller markets, IATA says that the overall impact on the region’s carriers is very limited.
North American carriers have cut capacity for two consecutive months (-0.4% in April and -0.5% in May). Year-on-year, traffic is up 4.5% and capacity increased by 5.5%. IATA adds that this cautious approach to capacity expansion resulted in the highest load factor (81.8%) among the major regions.