IATA figures for global international passengers show increase in April
passenger air traffic grew by 16.5% last month, compared to April 2010.
airspace was closed due to the ash cloud, it does reveal a solid recovery from
the early 2008 pre-recession levels and business confidence is high.”
but this spike is due mostly to the comparison with April when European airspace
results for April which showed a rebound in international markets with 16.5% growth
compared to 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.
to include domestic markets.
International: A 16.5% increase in passenger demand was met by a 16.8% increase in capacity.
Passenger load factors fell slightly from 76.8% in April 2010 to 76.7% in April
this year. International freight grew by 5.4% against a capacity increase of 12.3%,
pushing the freight load factor down from 55.3% in April 2010 to 51.9% in April
Domestic: Domestic markets showed 4.7% growth over the previous year, outpacing a capacity
increase of 3.1%, pushing the passenger load factor to 78.8%. Domestic freight
markets showed a 9.3% fall in freight traffic against a capacity decrease of 1.0%
resulting in an average load factor for the month of 26.8%.
System-wide: System-wide, passenger traffic grew by 11.9%, slightly ahead of an 11.5% capacity
expansion pushing the system-wide load factor to 77.4%. Freight markets grew by
3.3%, against a capacity increase of 9.2%, dropping the system-wide freight load
factor to 46.5% (compared to 49.1% for the same month last year).
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 CEO.
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,” said Bisignani.
African carriers saw a modest 1.2% growth in international markets compared to April 2010. This
is significantly better than the 7.1% decrease recorded in March due to more stability
returning to North Africa. While the number of flights operated to/from Egypt
and Tunisia is down by about a quarter compared to last year, about half of February’s
18% loss in traffic in these two markets has been recovered. Libyan airspace remains
Asia-Pacific carriers saw 5.1% growth in international markets, reversing the 0.6% drop in March.
Strength in Chinese and Indian markets helped offset the weakness in routes associated
with Japan. Japan’s international traffic is down 20%, knocking a full 1% off
of total international travel.
North American carriers are seeing much stronger demand in international markets (+11.9%) than in domestic,
for which the US carriers reported 1.2% growth.
European carriers reported a 29.3% spike, due mostly to the comparison to April 2010 which was
severely impacted by the volcanic ash crisis.
Latin American carriers saw a 25.9% increase in international demand in April, higher than the 22.7%
recorded in March. The region’s airlines are continuing to benefit from the strong
demand for commodities, and the dynamic growth of trade within the region and
along trade lanes with Asia.
Middle East carriers reported a 12.1% increase in international markets, more than double the 5.3%
recorded for March, indicating a return of confidence to the region’s long-haul
operations. While political unrest in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria continued through
the month, the impact was small as the three markets combined account for only
6% of Middle East traffic.
Utilization of seats improved significantly in April after large falls in February
and March due to various demand shocks. While a downward trend is still visible,
a load factor of 76.7% means that half of the 4 percentage point decline since
mid-2010 (when profits peaked) has been recovered.
Domestic air freight is about 12% of total freight shipments. Commentary for
this section focuses on combined (international and domestic figures). Load factors
which stood at 46.5% for April, have dropped by some 4 percentage points compared
to last May’s peak. This is reversing the strong boost to profitability that freight
delivered in 2010.
Although world trade has been expanding at an annualized rate of 10%, air freight
markets have shrunk by 6% compared to their post recession peak in May 2010.
Freight on African carriers contracted by 5.8% due to the aftermath of the political unrest in the region.
Asia-Pacific carriers also saw a contraction, but by a smaller 2.5%, due to disruptions in the supply
chains for autos and electronics in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and
By contrast, European airlines are starting to benefit from improvement in international trade. The 12.9% year-on-year
growth for international freight recorded in April is a positive sign, albeit
skewed by the volcanic ash disruptions of the previous year.
Domestic markets have been the weakest segment of air travel over the past 9
Japanese domestic travel was 31% below previous year levels in the aftermath of March’s earthquake and
tsunami. While capacity was adjusted downwards by 15.9%, the gap with the fall
in demand pushed load factors down to 47.4% for the month.
China’s domestic market has also seen a decline in growth to 10.8% in April. Against a 3.7% increase
in capacity, load factors were pushed upwards to 84.1%. While this is still robust
growth in China, the world’s second largest domestic market, tighter economic
policies have resulted in a significant slowing from the 14.6% growth recorded
Brazil and India showed the strongest domestic growth at 23.8% and 25.6% respectively. Both are
continuing their trend of high-speed growth.
The United States reported sluggish growth of 1.2%. The sluggishness in the mature US domestic
market (which represents about half of global domestic travel) travel is responsible
for the overall slow growth in domestic travel. It is also a very price sensitive
market that has declined with rises in jet fuel costs this year.
Over the last five years, Indian domestic expansion has been the strongest with
a tripling in size. China and Brazil doubled in size over the same period.
Meeting and World Air Transport Summit from 5-7 June. A robust discussion on the
many issues facing the global air transport industry is expected. Topics on the
agenda include the search for sustainable profitability, security and environment.
The event is open to accredited media who have pre-registered.
International Air Travel Rebounds in April
Notes for Editors: IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising
93% of scheduled international air traffic.
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for the media.
Domestic Markets: Domestic RPKs account for about 40% of the total market. It
is most important for North American Airlines as it is about 67% of their operations.
In Latin America, domestic travel accounts for 47% of operations, primarily due
to the large Brazilian market. For Asia-Pacific carriers, the large markets in
India, China and Japan mean that domestic travel accounts for 41% of the region’s
operations. It is less important for Europe and most of Africa where domestic
travel represents just over 10% of operations. And it is negligible Middle Eastern
carriers for whom domestic travel represents just 5% of operations.
Explanation of measurement terms: RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometers measures actual passenger traffic ASK: Available Seat Kilometers measures available passenger capacity PLF: Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2011 to 2010,
PLF indicates point differential between the periods compared
FTK: Freight Tonne Kilometers measures actual freight traffic AFTK: Available Freight Tonne Kilometers measures available total freight capacity
FLF: Freight Load Factor is % of AFTKs used IATA statistics cover international scheduled air traffic; domestic traffic is
All figures are provisional and represent total reporting at time of publication
plus estimates for missing data. Historic figures may be revised.
International passenger traffic market shares by region in terms of RPK are:
Europe 40.5%, Asia-Pacific 25.9%, North America 14.8%, Middle East 11.1%, Latin
America 4.6%, Africa 3.1%.
International freight traffic market shares by region in terms of FTK are: Asia-Pacific