Provisional figures for March show mixed traffic results among the major regions. For the first time in several months the passenger market shows widespread negative growth. In contrast, the general pattern in the freight market is similar to recent months with most regions showing continuing strong performance.
March 2003 saw total scheduled international passenger traffic (in RPK terms) down – 6.73% on March 2002. This is the first month since August 2002 where there has been negative year-on-year growth. Overall capacity (expressed as ASKs) was up 5.55% on the equivalent period last year with the load factor being 68.80%.
The biggest cause of the fall in passenger traffic during March 2003 was the outbreak of war in Iraq. The significance of this impact is illustrated by the performance of carriers from the Middle East and Far East. In recent months these two regions have had the leading results in terms of passengers carried. Therefore, the sharp declines both have suffered in RPK terms at – 9.93% for the Far East and – 8.20% for the Middle East, shows the extent to which the conflict has had an adverse effect. Carriers in the Far East may also have started to see the first signs of the influence of the SARS disease on traffic levels in March.
Another contributor to these results is the fact that this year Easter holidays fell in March. With the adverse effect of Iraq and SARS on travel, some carriers will not have had the expected advantage of holiday traffic to boost their passenger numbers.
All regions have falls in their Passenger Load Factor compared to the same point in 2002. A major reason behind this is that with the exception of North American airlines, all sectors have positive capacity growth in ASK terms. In spite of this the load factor for North American carriers is down – 8.77% on last year although they do have the highest overall figure of 72.27%.
The impact of global events on the freight market has been far less dramatic. Total international traffic (in FTK terms) was up 7.70% compared to 11.79% in February. The only sector to have negative FTK growth was North America at – 0.11%, a significant fall on the 7.34% figure recorded in February.
INT'L TRAFFIC AND CAPACITY – March 2003 (Percent Change over 2002)
Figures are provisional – represent total reporting plus estimates for missing data
Year to Date Results
RPK – Revenue Passenger-Kilometres ASK – Available Seat Kilometres
FTK – Freight Tonne-Kilometres ATK – Available Tonne-Kilometres
Region refers to area of carrier registration