GENEVA –The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released February traffic results showing that international passenger demand continued its strong start to the year with an increase of 6.8% year–on–year and up from 6.1% growth in January. Demand for international freight rose 2.4% following a 3.0% increase in January continuing an 8-month trend of slower growth. Average international passenger load factors were 73.3%, up 0.5% year–on–year.

“Passenger demand continues to exceed expectations," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “And over two years of improving load factors are proof that airlines are more efficiently meeting demand.”

The Middle East continued to lead all regions with year–on–year passenger demand growth of 18%. African airlines saw an above average demand increase of 9.4% boosted by the development of new routes within Africa and to Asia and the Middle East. Stronger than expected economic growth drove demand growth in Europe (7.4%), North America (6.8%) and Asia (5.7%). Latin America continues to be affected by industry restructuring with a 1.3% rise in passenger demand in February.

Air freight demand rose sharply in the Middle East (15.4%) boosted by oil-led economic growth and increased capacity. However, high fuel costs and strong competition from other modes of transport continue to limit air freight demand in Europe (-0.6%) Africa (-2.0%) and Asia (4.4%), particularly on shorter haul routes. North American airlines saw freight growth decline 0.5% in February compared to 6% in 2006 as the impact of last year’s redeployment of capacity to international markets decreases. Latin America saw a 20.2% decline due to restructuring.

“The numbers say it all. People want to travel. Liberalisation is key to meeting demand for international air travel. Last week’s US-EU agreement on open skies is a welcome step in the right direction—giving airlines greater freedom to efficiently meet consumer demand. We have a new relationship in the most important bilateral market in the world. Now it is the responsibility of the US and EU to facilitate the change that this agreement needs for it to be successful. Both sides must move on to address ownership, security, and other issues,” said Bisignani.

Full February Traffic Results

    Editors Notes

    • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents 250 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.