Passenger growth has slowed and air cargo demand fell compared to a year ago, according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
June figures showed cargo contracted by 0.8 percent compared to a year earlier. Passenger growth, while rising 3.8 percent, nevertheless has fallen to the lowest level of growth since 2003.
Fewer people are flying for leisure because of rising ticket prices, while slowing economies has meant slackening business travel. Rising raw materials costs are hurting demand for exports, in turn slowing air cargo demand.
"Although the passenger demand grew by 3.8 percent, this is the slowest growth that we have seen since the industry was hit by the SARS crisis in 2003," says Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA.
"With consumer and business confidence falling and sky-high oil prices, the situation will get a lot worse."
The airline sector is "in trouble," says Bisignani.
"Losses this year could reach US$6.1 billion, more than wiping out the US$5.6 billion that airlines made in 2007. Falling demand and rising costs are re-shaping the industry," he says.
Here are detailed passenger statistics from IATA by world region. Cargo data follows:
• Global passenger traffic growth of 3.8 percent is well below the 5.4 percent recorded year-to-date.
• Capacity growth of 5.5 percent outstripped demand, pushing the passenger load factor down to 77.6 percent.
• North American airlines saw demand growth drop to 4.4 percent (sharply down from the 8.2 percent growth recorded in May). Domestic traffic in the U.S. contracted by almost 4 percent.
• European airlines saw demand drop to 2.1 percent (compared to 4.1 percent in May). Declines in business confidence and industrial production in key European economies may well drive this further down.
• Asia Pacific airlines saw their international passenger traffic growth fall to 3.2 percent in June from 4.5 percent in May, influenced by weakening long haul destination economies and inflation concerns.
• Middle Eastern carriers saw their traffic growth slow to 9.6 percent in June from 12.8 percent in May. This is sharply down from the 18.1 percent recorded in June 2007.
• Latin American carriers turned in the strongest performance with 12.5 percent growth. Strong commodity-driven economic growth in Latin America is the driving force.
Detailed cargo statistics:
• International freight traffic declined by 0.8 percent in June. This is the first decline seen since May 2005 and follows several months of falling manufacturing sector confidence indicators.
• Asia Pacific airlines led the contraction with a 4.8 percent year-on-year decline for June traffic.
• Latin American airlines recorded the largest contraction (12.7 percent) as the region's cargo sector continues to re-structure its capacity.
• European carriers saw freight demand growth fall to 0.7 percent in June from 1.4 percent in May.
• North American carriers also saw freight demand growth slow to 4.0 percent in June from 4.6 percent in May.
• Middle Eastern carriers delivered the strongest performance with 12.1 percent growth (up slightly from the 10.7 percent recorded in May).
• African airlines recorded a 1.9 percent year-on-year decline in June.
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