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Press Release No.: 33

Date: 15 December 2004

International Cargo and Passenger to Grow at 6.0% Yearly to 2008


Strong Growth Reinforces Need for Structural Change

(Geneva) The International Air Transport Association released cargo and passenger traffic forecasts for 2004-2008 indicating 6.0% growth annually for international passengers and 6.0% annually for international cargo tonnage.

"It looks like we will finish 2004 with the strongest traffic rebound that the industry has seen since the 1991 recovery from the effects of the Gulf War. Expectations for the rest of the forecast period are in line with historical industry trends. If nothing changes in the operating environment, this is the start of a good news story for the industry," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

Passenger numbers for 2004 are expected to grow by 11% over 2003 (14% if measured in revenue passenger kilometers). While this phenomenal growth is largely related to a recovery from the disastrous impact of SARS in 2003, two underlying factors are important. First, the robust economic expansion is the strongest in three decades. Second, increasing liberalization and intense competition in many markets is driving growth with declining yields.

China and India will be the main engines of growth for passenger traffic. International markets within Asia Pacific are expected to grow at 8.3% over the forecast period. Europe-Middle East growth, while from a much smaller base, will also be exceptional at 7.7% reflecting rapid expansion plans by Middle Eastern carriers.

Freight will also see double-digit growth in 2004, increasing 10.1%.  The 6.0% freight growth forecasted through 2008 relies heavily on Asia-Pacific with markets linked to China and India expected to growth most rapidly. Europe to Asia-Pacific will be the fastest growing market with 7.0% annual growth. Traffic within Asia Pacific and between the Middle East and Europe will also be above the global average at 6.1%.

"Strong traffic growth is only half the story. Damaged balance sheets from four successive years of record losses totally in US$35 billion and three years of lost growth will take more than a rebound in traffic to repair. Structural change is essential to return the industry to health," said Bisignani.

Link to data tables

Editor's Notes:

1.  IATA Passenger and Cargo forecasts are published annually. These are five-year forecasts for major global traffic flows combining data from participating IATA airlines, other industry data sources and historical knowledge. Full forecasts may be purchased through the IATA Online Store www.iata.org.
2.  IATA's Monthly International Statistical Data is based on revenue passenger kilometers and freight tonne-kilometres. Forecast data is for passenger numbers and tonnes uplifted.

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