"International passenger traffic growth has given us cause for celebration. For the first time since February when SARS and Iraq so radically impacted our industry, we can write our monthly traffic figure with black ink," announced Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

Overall RPKs for September 2003 show a 1% improvement over results for same month of the previous year. Although small, this is a significant increment, as it confirms the steady traffic rise of the past three months. Robust growth in Europe (3.6%) and high growth in the Middle East (19.4%) contributed to this worldwide result. Although still reporting negative passenger figures in Asia-Pacific (-1.6%) and North America (-3.6%), both regions have shown good improvement over the previous month's results (respectively -4.6% and -6.5%). On the freight side, both FTKs and ATKs are recorded at 2.9% better than September 2002.

A comparison of industry growth today with the period prior to the effects of 9/11, Iraq and SARS provides another view of industry recovery. Passenger traffic growth for Aug 2003 over Aug 2001 is down 4.2% on the 2001 results, whereas freight is a strong +14% above 2001 level.

;Overall capacity was up by 0.7%, contributing to a drop in September passenger load factor to 75.5%, down from 79.5% in August 2003, but almost identical to September 2002 (75.6%).

Preliminary cumulative international passenger results for the first nine months of 2003 are 4.9% below the same period for 2002. These results confirm the slow but steady recovery rate, climbing from the lowest point registered in Jan-May (-7.7% compared to Jan-May 2002). IATA continues to forecast that overall international passenger traffic levels in 2003 will be approximately 1% lower than 2002 by year end if stable conditions prevail.

Year on year growth for the overall international freight market continues to slow slightly, at 5.5% as compared to 6% in August and 6.4% in July. The Middle East region continues to be highest freight growth market at 15.2%.


All figures are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication plus estimates for missing data.

Notes for Editors

1. Explanation of measurements:

a. RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic

b. ASK: Available Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity

c. FTK: Freight Tonne Kilometres measures actual freight traffic

d. ATK: Available Tonne Kilometres measures available total capacity

2. IATA statistics cover international scheduled air traffic; domestic traffic is not included.