The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for January showing a 5.7% rise in passenger demand but an 8.0% decline in air freight compared to the same month in 2011.
The occurrence of Chinese New Year in January (rather than in February as in 2011) exaggerated the increase in passenger demand and the fall in air freight. Stripping this out, the underlying trend was for stronger passenger growth, while stabilized weakness in cargo markets continues.
“The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilized, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel. However, airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry’s fortunes like the sword of Damocles,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Tony Tyler.
Total January passenger demand rose 5.7% compared to January 2011 a slight acceleration from the 5.6% year over year increase recorded for December 2011. With January passenger capacity up 4.2%, average load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 76.6% compared to the same month a year ago.
Freight markets stood at 8% below January 2011 levels. The decline in air freight stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2011, at levels 4% below the 2008 pre-crisis peak. There was a 2.5% fall in global freight markets from December to January, but this is almost totally attributable to the impact of factory closures due to the Chinese New Year. Freight capacity contracted by 0.6% year over year, and freight load factor fell to 41% (from 44.3% in January 2011) as deliveries of new widebody passenger aircraft offset measures to reduce freight capacity.
|Jan 2012 vs. Jan 2011||RPK Growth||ASK Growth||PLF||FTK Growth||AFTK Growth|
|2011 vs. 2010||RPK Growth||ASK Growth||PLF||FTK Growth||AFTK Growth|
International Passenger Markets
International air travel rose 5.5% in January year over year, while capacity climbed 4.2%, resulting in a load factor of 76.6%, up from 75.7% in January 2011.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic markets outperformed international markets in aggregate as strong demand in Brazil, China and India helped to push domestic traffic up 6.1% compared to January 2011.
Air Freight (Domestic and International)
The Bottom Line
“Running an airline in today’s uncertain economic climate is a tough job. Some well-known names—Spanair and Malev—disappeared in January. At the same time, we know that demand for air travel will grow as the global economy recovers and requires even greater connectivity. The billions of dollars in commercial orders placed at the recent Singapore Airshow demonstrate that airlines are strategically investing to meet that demand with ever-more fuel efficient and environmentally-sustainable aircraft,” said Tyler.
“The aviation industry is a catalyst for economic growth. Governments should keep this in mind in their policy initiatives. Measures to boost competitiveness—not taxes or restrictions—are immediately needed, along with a long-term vision to support sustainable economic growth through much needed infrastructure investments. This includes the Single European Sky, the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen, Seamless Asian Skies and airport development. Of course, this must be accompanied with polices to improve environmental performance—the commercialization of sustainable biofuels and a global framework for economic measures to manage aviation’s emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organization included. Such a holistic policy approach will keep communities sustainably connected to global economic opportunities,” said Tyler.