International Freight Traffic Shows Marked Improvement

International scheduled air traffic statistics for June showed continued strong demand growth as the industry recovers from the impact of the global financial crisis, reports the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Compared to June 2009, international passenger demand was up 11.9% while international scheduled freight traffic showed a 26.5% improvement.

Capacity increased only slightly above demand improvements during the month, keeping load factors in line with historical highs at 79.8% for passenger traffic and 53.8% for freight.

"The industry continues to recover faster than expected, but with sharp regional differences. Europe is recovering at half the speed of Asia with passenger growth of 7.8% compared to the 15.5% growth in Asia-Pacific," says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO.

Outside of Europe, all regions reported double-digit growth in passenger traffic. "The question is how long can the industry maintain the double-digit momentum. Business confidence remains high and there is no indication that the recovery will stall any time soon. But, with government stimulus packages tailing off and restocking largely completed, we do expect some slowing over the months ahead," Bisignani says.

International freight demand grew 26.5% in June 2010, down from the 34.0% recorded in May 2010. May was exceptionally high as some interrupted traffic from April's volcanic ash crisis shifted to May. Volumes remain 6% above the pre-recession peak in early 2008.

Freight demand continues to follow economic recovery and trade patterns with airlines in Asia-Pacific (+29.8%), Middle East (+39.6%), Latin America (+44.9%) and Africa (+54.0%) growing the fastest.

Carriers in North America (+24.2%) occupy the middle ground.

Europe (15.3%) is growing at half the rate of the fastest growing regions based on slower economic growth. This trend is particularly evident in Europe which is the only region still 5-6% below the pre-recession peak. The low value of the Euro will be a help to the region’s exporters and eventually drive up freight volumes.

"We remain cautiously optimistic," says Bisignani. "A clear indication of the growing confidence is the over 400 aircraft orders announced at the Farnborough Air Show. This is good news that will bring environmental benefits through improved fuel efficiency. But it will also make the challenge of matching capacity to demand much more difficult."

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