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Date: 27 January 2004

IATA International Traffic Statistics: December 2003

2003: A difficult year ending on an upbeat note


Passenger traffic

"The War in Iraq, SARS and a world-wide economic slowdown produced a dismal environment for the air transport industry in the first half of 2003," stated Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. "As these negative factors gradually disappeared and the airlines' vigorous cost-cutting measures took effect, we saw a robust traffic recovery in the last quarter," Bisignani added.

Full-year results for 2003 show a decrease of –2.4% in international IATA passenger traffic as compared to 2002. Capacity increased by 0.1% with a resulting load factor of 72.2% (-1.8 pts lower than 2002).  The sharp decline in traffic started in February and hit its lowest value in May with –19.8% (in RPK terms).

This decline can be attributed to two main events: the war in Iraq in March followed by the SARS epidemic in April – May.

Not all regions were affected evenly; carriers in North America and Asia Pacific were the most impacted, with decreases reading –22.0% in April and –41.3% in May respectively. These regions took longer to recover, both recording positive traffic growth only by October-November. In contrast, Europe and the Middle East have since reported positive growth by early summer.
 
The year 2003 ends with an encouraging widespread positive growth of 5.2% in RPKs for December and expectations of an upward trend of 7-8% for 2004.

Freight traffic

Overall international freight traffic grew 4.9% in 2003, thanks to healthy growth in the Middle East (15.08% year-end growth). North American and Asian airlines were below 2002 levels for much of the year but returned to growth, in December, of 1.9% and 10.0% year-on-year respectively.

Overall capacity (passenger and freight combined) increased by 2.5% in 2003.

;"Altogether, the dynamic traffic growth experienced in the second half of 2003 bids well for a healthy trend in 2004 supporting a rebirth of airline profitability," Bisignani concluded.

-IATA-

Monthly International Statistics

 

 

International Traffic and Capacity

 

(Percentage over 2002)

 

 

Monthly December 2003

January – December 2003

 

RPK

%

ASK

%

PLF

pts

FTK

%

ATK

%

RPK

%

ASK

%

PLF

pts

FTK

%

ATK

%

Europe

4.7

1.3

2.3

5.2

1.3

2.0

2.8

-0.6

2.5

2.5

N America

2.3

-2.6

3.8

1.9

0.6

-7.2

-7.3

0.1

5.2

-2.3

S America

0.7

-2.7

2.5

8.0

0.2

9.2

1.7

5.0

5.7

3.5

Far East

4.5

1.5

2.2

10.0

5.0

-9.4

-2.7

-5.1

5.4

2.7

M East

27.7

22.2

3.1

22.9

26.0

13.1

16.3

-2.0

15.1

19.2

Africa

7.4

2.4

3.4

25.4

7.0

1.2

3.3

-1.4

10.4

5.9

Sample IATA (Overall)

5.2

1.8

2.4

7.7

4.2

-2.4

0.1

-1.8

4.9

2.5

Notes
Sample representation    Total reporting carriers data

EUROPE    Reporting European carriers' data
N AMERICA Reporting North American carrier's data plus provisional passenger and estimate freight data for the current month
S AMERICA    Reporting South American carriers' data
FAR EAST    Reporting Far East carriers' data

Sample IATA Total reporting plus estimates for missing data     
Due to uncertainties in the adoption of the new ICAO statistical definitions by reporting carriers, care should be taken when making year comparisons.

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