(Montreal) "July figures confirm that traffic is well on its way to recovery. Although we are still below last year's levels, the improvement is impressive enough to suggest that we will end the year 2.0% down on 2002 levels," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

Preliminary IATA traffic figures for July 2003 show a 3.6% drop in international passenger traffic over July 2002. This is much improved over final traffic figures for June that indicated a 12.4% decrease over June 2002. Greatest improvement was seen with SARS-hit Asia Pacific carriers. Their traffic was 14.0% below July 2002 levels, an advance on the 32%% year-on-year drop recorded in June.

For the first seven months of the year, overall passenger traffic is 6.5% below 2002 levels.

North American, Asia Pacific and European carriers saw traffic drop 10.6%, 15.5% and 0.5% respectively. South American and Middle Eastern traffic for January to July improved 8.6% and 7.5% for the same period.

Overall capacity fell by 4.1% leading to a July passenger load factor of 77.7%. This figure compares favourably to the 73.0% recorded in June.

In the international freight market, overall traffic increased 1.4%, a similar picture to June (+0.2%). This is well down on the double digit growth recorded during the first quarter of 2003, suggesting that the 6.4% year-to-date growth will reduce further as demand slows.

;"While passenger traffic is clearly returning, we cannot ignore the influence of the price incentives that airlines have offered to stimulate the market. The strength of the recovery will become evident in the coming months as pricing returns to more economic levels. An economically viable airline industry is essential to the global economy. The industry's agenda of overall cost reduction combined with moving governments towards further liberalization and a more realistic view on competition remains critical," cautioned Bisignani.

IATA represents over 270 airlines comprising 98% of international scheduled air traffic.

All figures are provisional-represent total reporting plus estimates for missing data

Notes for Editors

1. Explanation of measurements:
a. ASK: Available Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity
b. RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic
c. ATK: Available Tonne Kilometres measures available total capacity
d. FTK: Freight Tonne Kilometres measures actual freight traffic
2. IATA statistics cover international scheduled air traffic only and do not include domestic traffic.