GENEVA –The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released January traffic results showing that international passenger demand started the year off on a positive note with an increase of 6.1%. International freight traffic demand was subdued at 3.0%, despite continued strength in the global economy and trade. Average international passenger load factors were 74.9% representing two years of consecutive monthly increases in year-on-year load factors.
“January passenger numbers tell a good story. People want to fly and airlines continue to meet this demand with even greater efficiency—filling 74.9% of seats available globally. But it is no time to relax. Slower freight growth is a strong reminder of the continuing effects of a high fuel price and competition from other modes of transport,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Passenger growth stabilised in the three key markets of North America (6.6%), Europe (5.5%) and Asia Pacific (5.0%) as interest rates slightly dampened demand. The Middle East continued its trend of double-digit growth, leading all regions in January with a 19.8% jump in passenger traffic. The region has posted double-digit growth in 41 of the past 43 months. African airlines saw continued above average growth in demand with an 8.1% increase and Latin America saw an 8.7% contraction in passenger traffic growth due to restructuring in that region.
Air freight traffic growth continued in the Middle East with a 23.8% rise in January, boosted by capacity increases and oil-led GDP growth. However, high fuel costs and strong competition from other modes of transport have slowed freight growth in Asia (2.9%), Africa (2.0%), North America (1.5%) and Europe (-0.8%). Latin America saw a 2.9% increase as airlines rapidly expanded their freight operations to replace capacity removed during restructuring.
“Strong passenger demand growth in January and a rising load factor signal a positive start for 2007. But that is only part of the equation for a successful industry. Further efficiency gains are critical. The industry is on track to achieve the US$3 billion cost savings from 100% e-ticketing in just 301 days. ‘Efficiency everywhere’ is the mindset that must pervade the entire industry value chain—including our monopoly suppliers. It is the key to moving from the small US$2.5 billion net return - 0.5% of revenues - projected for 2007 to a position of sustainable profitability," said Bisignani.