INTERNATIONAL. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today announced a sharp -10.1% year-on-year fall in international traffic statistics for February.
The figures reflect a continuing deterioration in demand – in January international passenger figures fell by -5.6% year-on-year. It should be noted that February 2009 was a day shorter than the same month last year but the decline was still sharper than expected.
IATA noted that the 5.9% reduction in capacity – the most aggressive since the crisis began – could not keep pace with the fall in demand, pushing the February load factor down to 69.9% (3.2 percentage points below the same month in the previous year).
February’s international freight volumes were -22.1% below 2008 levels. This is the third consecutive month at more than -20% below previous year levels (-23.2 in January and -22.6% in December).
IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani noted: “Gloom continues. The sharp drop in February passenger traffic shows the broadening scope of the crisis. Freight traffic, which began its decline in June 2008 before passenger markets were hit, has now had three consecutive months in the -22% to -23% range. We may have found a bottom to the freight decline, but the magnitude of the drop means that it will take time to recover.”
“Gloom continues. The sharp drop in February passenger traffic shows the broadening scope of the crisis.” – Giovanni Bisignani
Analysing the passenger figures, IATA noted the following:
– The decline in demand for international travel outpaced capacity adjustments in all regions.
– African carriers saw the largest demand decline (-13.7%), outpacing even the most aggressive capacity cuts (-11.8%).
– Asia Pacific carriers saw passenger traffic decline by -12.8%, far outstripping the -7.8% capacity adjustment. The region’s export dependant economies continue to suffer, impacting both business and leisure travel – particularly to long haul destinations. While this may be somewhat exaggerated by Chinese New Year (which took place in January 2009 and February 2008), the sharp downward drop from the -8.4% recorded in January shows the deepening impact of the crisis on this region.
– North American carriers recorded a -12.0% drop in demand, also outpacing an aggressive -7.1% capacity adjustment. Consumer confidence remains low in what is traditionally a weak month for travel.
– Europe’s carriers saw traffic fall in line with the global average at -10.1%. IATA said that long haul markets to the US and Asia have been particularly hard hit, “reflecting negative economic sentiment such as that seen in Germany where business confidence hit new lows in both February and again this month”.
– Latin American carriers most closely matched demand drops (-3.8%) with capacity adjustment (-2.4%). A slowdown in commodities is impacting trade – particularly with the US and Asia, IATA said.
– Middle East carriers bucked the trend of falling demand with an increase of +0.4% in international passenger traffic. But an aggressive capacity increase of +7.3% drove load factors down 4.7 percentage points to 68.1%.
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