Premium air traffic continues growing, but “weakness” in Europe
IATA produces monthly reports on premium air traffic, worldwide, showing its growth or otherwise, by region and by route. In 2011 premium travel markets grew +5.5%, with economy travel growing +5.1%. Compared to the post-recession rebound in 2010, these results are a slowdown. In 2010, premium markets grew 9.1% while economy travel rose by 5.9%. However premium travel within Europe – the largest route by traffic share – expanded by 5.1% in 2011. Premium traffic Europe to the Far East rose by +8.4% and to the Middle East by +9.1%.
Global business travel stabilises despite European weakness
Global business travel has stabilised in the last few months but Europe continues to look weak, according to the latest data on premium travel.
IATA’s monthly report into premium air traffic shows that passenger numbers were up 2.9% in January compared to the same month in 2011.
But business travel within Europe was flat year-on-year while the Europe-Far East routes saw the premium travel market fall by 2.8% although part of this decline has been put down to Chinese New Year being held in January this year instead of February.
“Softness in European trade and contraction in industrial production at the end of 2011 would also be contributing to the decline in travel on the Europe-Far East market, as well as the no growth result for premium travel within Europe in January 2012,” said IATA in the report.
“Despite weak consumer confidence, economy class travel within Europe continues to grow, increasing 8% in January compared to the same month in 2011.”
The key Europe to North America route, which accounts for around 25% of all premium airline revenues, rebounded in January when traffic rose by 1.8% year-on-year after being down by 0.8% in December.
“The market has been experiencing weakness since October 2011, before which it was being supported by business travel related to German and other Northern European export activity across the Atlantic,” said IATA.
“Improvements in the US economy could be generating renewed business activity and supporting the January increase in premium travel for this market. Premium travel within North America also expanded in January, by a significant 8.2% compared to the same month in 2011.”
The IATA Premium Traffic Monitor for January 2012 is at
This includes these charts:
During the year as a whole, premium travel markets grew 5.5%, with economy travel growing 5.1%. Compared to the post-recession rebound in 2010, these results are a slowdown. In 2010, premium markets grew 9.1% while economy travel strengthened by 5.9%. However, performance in 2011 is in line with historical average growth rates. Moreover, despite financial instability in the Eurozone, travel markets within Europe – the largest route by traffic share – expanded by 5.1% in 2011. In fact, growth on all of the larger routes continued at a robust pace during the year, and there were no significant areas of weakness.
Although international trade indicators are signaling flat growth at best, business confidence – which tends to lead premium travel by several months – has now turned up in the past 2 months and is pointing to increased business activity. As a result, we would expect some increase in business travel, lending some support to premium travel in
the months ahead. However, growth risks from the Eurozone banking crisis remain.
Europe – Far East rose +8.4% in 2011 compared to 2010
Europe – Middle East + 9.1%
Europe – SW Pacific -1.4%
Europe – Africa – 4.8%
Within Europe + 5.1%