Santa’s gift for 2010: industry recovery?

Given the season, it’s somewhat fitting that early indications of recovery are emerging from Lapland – or Finland to be more precise.

Father Christmas, credit dryfish.jpgPhoto credit: dryfish

Finnair has just released its traffic figures which might just show early signs of the green shoots which executives across the airline industry are waiting on.

In the words of Airline Business columnist Chris Tarry, a 16% increase in business passenger numbers in December does not make a trend, but it’s a start and it’s considerably more uplifting than most of the numbers which have been bouncing around the world’s airline headquarters lately.

Finnair says the number of business class passengers on its Asian routes grew by a quarter. “A pick-up in business travel between Europe and Asia is perceptible,” says Finnair senior vice-president for communications Christer Haglund. This is hardly surprising, as all eyes look east for good news.

Cargo demand at Finnair, which fell by 12% over the year, also showed some green shoots with 6% growth in December. This is a positive sign as cargo tends to be an early indicator of industry decline and recovery.

But Finnair’s overall picture – a 9% drop in passenger traffic in 2009 compared with 2008 – is far from positive, and when we make comparisons with December 2008 we have to remember that traffic was already depressed at that time.

For some insights into what 2010 might hold for the industry, it’s worth taking a few minutes out of your day to view our Airline Business Debate programme where Chris Tarry, Robert Milton and our editor Mark Pilling chewing over the key issues as we look forward.

If that’s not enough to lift your spirits, take a look at Finnair’s Christmas video which scores highly for reindeer cuteness and general “Aww!” factor.

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    modest recovery started in July and has extended into this quarter, and looks to continue into the early part of the new year.

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