Global passenger traffic up 11.9% in April

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IATA has reported an 11.9% year-on-year growth in global passenger traffic and a 3.3% increase in freight traffic in April, led by increases in both international and domestic markets.

Global passenger capacity grew 11.5%, and the passenger load factor fell 0.1 percentage point to 76.7%, said IATA. The international market saw a rebound with a growth of 16.5% in passenger traffic and a 16.8% increase in capacity, as compared with April 2010.

"While this is exaggerated by the comparison to April 2010 during which European airspace was closed due to the volcanic ash crisis, international travel markets in April had grown to reach a level 7% higher than the pre-recession peak of early 2008," said IATA.

The domestic passenger market showed a 4.7% growth over the previous year, outpacing a capacity increase of 3.1%.

In the cargo market, international freight traffic grew 5.4% against a capacity increase of 12.3%. Domestic freight traffic fell 9.3% while capacity declined 1%.

"Eliminating all distortions, we are growing at 3%-4%. International traffic is now 7% above the early 2008 pre-recession levels, load factors are hovering around 77% and business confidence is high. Unfortunately two things are spoiling the party - demand shocks and high jet fuel prices," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and chief executive.

"Despite the enormous restructuring over the last decade, the industry is not shock-proof. Profits are being squeezed by the succession of crises and shocks that have marked the first four months of this year. Their impact on demand will continue to ease as we move into the second half. But maintaining the high load factors needed to support profitable growth will be difficult given the ongoing challenge of matching capacity to volatile demand," he added.