The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released traffic results for the first seven months of the year showing growth of 6.4% for passenger traffic and 5.3% for freight over the same period last year. The average load factor for the period was 76%.

"The load factors are amazing. For the first seven months of the year passenger demand grew by 6.4% while capacity expanded by 4.7% pushing the average load factor to 76%. The result is a strong revenue environment that is helping to combat the increasing price of fuel. But recent shocks in the UK and the Middle East remind us that there is no room for complacency on efficiency," said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA.

In July 80.8% of seats were filled worldwide with North American carriers achieving 85.9%.

The conflict in the Middle East led to a slowdown in the region's growth rate. "For the first time in two years, Middle Eastern carriers were not the leaders in cargo or passenger growth," said Bisignani. Middle Eastern carriers posted July growth of 12.9% for passenger and 15.2% for cargo. This was behind African carrier growth of 13.1% for passenger and 20.6% for cargo. Middle Eastern traffic accounts for 7.7% of global traffic. "The slowdown was isolated with little impact even to the region's dominant carriers," said Bisignani.

"While we expect to see another isolated dip in August due to the UK terror alert, overall, improved efficiency and high load factors will help to mitigate the impact of the high oil prices and bodes well for the bottom line. A disciplined focus on efficiency throughout the value chain is the tool that will return the industry to profitability," said Bisignani.

IATA will release a revised industry profitability forecast on Thursday 31 August.

Full July traffic results

Editors Notes:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents 261 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