(Paris) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data for January to April 2006 showing 6.9% growth in passenger demand and 5.7% growth for freight over the same period in 2005. Load factors for the first four months of the year achieved an average of 74.8%.

"Strong economies are supporting strong demand growth for both freight and passenger traffic. Even with the high price of oil and rising interest rates there is no apparent drop in demand and carriers are responding with careful capacity management that saw the April load factors reach their highest point—76.5%—in the past decade," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

April growth was particularly strong due to the impact of a late Easter holiday. Passenger traffic grew by 9.9% over the previous April, while capacity expanded by only 5.5%, driving load factors to 76.5%. For the first four months of the year, the Middle East continued to lead growth with an 18.3% increase over the same period in 2005.

Freight demand for the first four months of the year averaged 5.7%. Middle Eastern carriers lead growth at 17.9%, followed by Latin America (8.0%), Asia-Pacific (6.0%) and North America (5.9%). African and European carriers lagged behind at 2.7% and 2.5% respectively.

"Strong demand is good news for an industry that continues to take a beating from oil prices averaging US$20 per barrel more than in 2005. Airlines continue to cut costs and improve efficiency, but it will still not be enough to fully mitigate the price of fuel. Even more efficiency and great change are needed. This will be at the top of the agenda as the world's aviation leaders gather this weekend in Paris for the IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit," said Bisignani.

Full April traffic results

Editors Notes

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents 265 airlines comprising 94% of international scheduled air traffic.
  • Explanation of measurements:
    • RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic
    • ASK: Available Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity
    • PLF: Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2006 to 2005, PLF indicates point differential between the periods compared.
    • FTK: Freight Tonne Kilometres measures actual freight traffic
    • ATK: Available Tonne Kilometres measures available total capacity (combined passenger and cargo)
  • IATA statistics cover international scheduled air traffic; domestic traffic is not included.
  • All figures are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication plus estimates for missing data.