The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that March
2010 international scheduled air traffic showed continued strengthening of
demand. Compared to March 2009, passenger demand was up 10.3%, while cargo
demand grew 28.1%. Both are improvements from the 9.0% and 26.3% growth for
passenger and freight demand recorded in February.
“March results show that the pace of the upturn is strong. But the trauma of the past is not over. The industry has lost two years of growth, and passenger and
freight markets are still 1% below early 2008 highs. Nonetheless, the pace of
improvement, based on an improving global economic situation, is much faster
than anybody would have expected even six months ago,” said Giovanni Bisignani,
IATA’s Director General and CEO. IATA noted that the International Monetary
Fund revised global GDP growth forecasts from 3.0% to 4.3% for 2010.
With a 78.0% load factor recorded in March, passenger load factors remain at record
highs. While demand expanded by 10.3% in March, capacity increases stood at
2.0%, boosting the load factor and creating much tighter supply and demand
conditions. Global capacity remains 3-4% below pre-crisis levels.
North American carriers posted a traffic growth of 7.8%, lagging the global
average, although considerably improved from the 4.4% recorded in
February. Uncertainty over government budget cuts and tax increases is
dampening demand for air travel, compared to other regions, particularly
Asia-Pacific. North American carriers posted the highest load factor among the
regions (81.6%) as a result of continuing careful capacity management.
Despite the sluggish US economy, North
American carriers have seen an international freight rebound
(+32.2%). Both export and import volumes are very strong in the emerging
economies of Asia-Pacific and in Latin America which recorded the strongest growth at
The strong traffic recovery is expected to show a dip in April as a result of the
eruption of an Icelandic volcano in April that saw the shutdown of large
portions of European airspace over a six-day period. “European carriers
were already showing the weakest recovery from the financial crisis through
March. The volcanic ash crisis hit the weakest part of the industry the
hardest. The majority of the US$1.7 billion in lost revenues was by Europe’s
carriers. Passenger confidence is not affected and we expect a quick rebound.
The combined impact of lost business and added costs will certainly hit the
bottom line,” said Bisignani.