GENEVA –The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released March traffic results showing that international passenger traffic demand rose 7.8% year–on-year. This is the largest year-on-year single month increase recorded in a year. Average international passenger load factors remained high at 76.4%. International freight traffic demand continued a 12-month run of sluggish growth with a 2.3% increase year-on-year.

Comparing the first three months of 2007 to the same period in the previous year passenger demand was up 7.0% with average load factors of 74.9%. Freight demand increased 2.7%.

“The story for passenger traffic is based on strong economies driving the demand to travel for both business and leisure markets. For freight, competition for other modes of transport—particularly sea—is holding growth below our forecast of 5.5% for 2007," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Carriers in the Middle East continued their 3-year trend of double-digit passenger demand growth in March with a year-on-year increase of 20.4%. This was driven by rapid route and capacity expansion and strong economic growth. Since 2001, Middle Eastern carriers have increased their overall share of global traffic from 5% to 8%.

All other regions also saw year-on-year increases for passenger traffic in March. African carriers reported an 11.9% increase boosted primarily by new and expanded routes to the Middle East and Asia. Strong economies drove demand for carriers in Europe (8.2%), Asia (6.9%) and North America (5.0%). Latin American carriers, which continue to be affected by industry restructuring, reported the smallest increase at 0.5%.

In freight, the Middle East 's carriers led all regions with 12.7% year-on-year demand growth in March due to route expansion and increased volumes of perishable goods. Demand in Asia rose 4.5% as a result strong trade growth in the region, although trade imbalances resulted in lower load factors on inbound aircraft. African carriers recorded a 3.1% rise. Airlines in other regions saw demand decrease: Europe (-1%), North America (-0.9%) and Latin America (-.6.9%).

“People want to travel and they are doing it in record numbers,” said Bisignani. “The fact that airlines are meeting that demand with newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft and near-record load factors bodes well for the bottom line and should lead to an industry profit of US$3.8 billion in 2007.”

Full March Traffic Results

    Editor's 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.