Latest IATA assessment shows continuing traffic declines

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International scheduled passenger traffic faltered for the seventh straight month this year in July.

But last month's 2.9% year-over-year decline was a relative improvement from the 7.2% drop recorded year-over-year this June, and an improvement from a 9.3% year-over-year decline for May, according to the latest statistics compiled by IATA.

During July international capacity was more in line with reduced passenger demand than in previous months and international load factors mirrored July 2008 levels, IATA says. However, IATA explains that these "positive developments" have come at the expense of yields, which continue to spiral downward.

"Demand may look better, but the bottom line has not improved," IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani says in a statement. "We have seen little change to the unprecedented fall in yields and revenues. The months ahead are marked by many uncertainties, including the price of oil. The road to recovery will be both slow and volatile. In the meantime, the industry remains in intensive care."

Examining passenger demand by region, IATA notes that Asia-Pacific carriers recorded the largest passenger decline of any region with a 7.6% fall compared to July 2008. But the decline was a considerable improvement compared with the 14.5% drop in traffic posted by Asia-Pacific carriers in June. IATA attributes the improvement from June to July to a resumption of economic growth in a number of Asian economies.

European and North American carriers posted respective year-over-year declines of 3.1% and 3.2% in scheduled traffic.

IATA notes that European and North American airlines continue to offer deep discounts, and are leaving those sale fares in palce for longer periods of time.

Latin American operators saw demand drop by 3.5% compared to July 2008 while African airlines experienced a 5.5% decline compared to the same month last year.

Traffic in the Middle East continues to grow as carriers in the region grew passenger counts by 13.2% in July, up from 12.9% in June.

IATA's analysis also shows that freight demand was down 11.3% last month compared to July 2008, marking the seventh consecutive month of faltering cargo demand.

But that figure was also an improvement from June 2009 results, which were 16.5% below June 2008 levels.