ANALYSIS: Traffic grows steadily in July

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Airlines in Europe and North America continued to relatively small passenger traffic growth on cautious capacity expansion in July.

North American carriers increased collective passenger traffic 2.3% in July over the same month in 2012. This growth was just shy of the extra 2.6% capacity added during the month, leading to a fractional fall in load factor to 86.6%.

The US major carriers continue keep a tight grip on capacity. United-Continental cut capacity 2%, while American Airlines and Delta Air Lines both lifted capacity under 3% in July.

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European carriers lifted their collective capacity traffic 3% in July over the same period last year. Passenger load factor was roughly unchanged at 85.8%. While capacity remains relatively flat at Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa, the restructuring at Iberia and Croatia Airlines is evident in large cuts in capacity.

The big rises in capacity at Norwegian and Czech Airlines in part reflect the addition of long-haul flights - debuted at Norwegian with its Boeing 787 flights and resumed at the Czech carrier after it wet-leased in an Airbus A330.

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Passenger traffic in July increased more sharply in the faster growing Asia-Pacific market. Here collective load factors were fractionally higher at just under 80% during the month after passenger growth of 8.5% fractionally outstripped the additional capacity added.

Double digit growth continued for Chinese carriers, notably Hainan Airlines Group, while Malaysia Airlines continues to a sharp raise in both traffic and capacity following the introduction of Airbus A380s to its fleet.

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