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GLOBAL PASSENGER DEMAND UP 6pc

ME airlines top traffic growth for any region

Montreal, May 1, 2013

Middle East airlines experienced the strongest traffic growth for any region for March at 15.6 per cent year-over-year, with a 14.2 per cent rise in capacity that boosted load factor to 79.7 per cent, a report said.

While a smaller share of international air travel (13.4 per cent) the Middle Eastern carriers have carried about 20 per cent of the increase in demand over the past six months, added the report released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata) highlighting global passenger traffic results for March.

March international passenger demand rose 6.0 per cent compared to the year-ago period, with capacity up 3.5 per cent, pushing up load factor 1.8 percentage points to 79.9 per cent. Compared to February, traffic rose 0.4 per cent.

Part of the rise may be attributable to traffic related to the Easter holiday, which occurred in March this year versus April 2012. But the seasonally adjusted trend continues to show strong growth, with demand expanding at an 8 per cent annualized rate in the six months since October 2012.

Capacity rose 3.5 per cent compared to the year-ago period, pushing up load factor 1.8 percentage points to 80.3 per cent.

“Strong demand for air travel is consistent with improving business conditions. Performance, however, has been uneven. Mature markets are seeing relatively little growth while emerging markets continue to show a robust expansion,” said Tony Tyler, Iata director general and CEO.

“Although oil prices have softened in recent weeks, they remain high against historical averages. In view of this, airlines are responding with a very cautious approach to capacity management.”

African airlines’ traffic climbed 8.2 per cent in March, while capacity rose 5.7 per cent, pushing load factor up to 67.8 per cent, still the lowest for any region. Although traffic declined 1.1 per cent compared to February, the region is seeing solid growth.

Domestic markets also experienced strong growth, with traffic up 5.7 per cent in March versus a year ago. However, this masked wide variations among countries, with growth largely driven by China. Capacity rose 3.5 per cent and load factor was 80.9 per cent, up 1.7 percentage points.

“Business confidence levels continue to foreshadow an economic upturn. It is important that governments avoid placing roadblocks to recovery. The flight delays and cancellations inflicted on air travelers to, from and within the US owing to sequestration-related budget cuts had the potential to inflict real damage to the economy if they had been permitted to continue,” said Tyler.

“Fortunately Congress and the Obama Administration put aside partisan political disputes for the good of the economy. But aviation is far too important to be treated as a bargaining chip in political disputes in the first instance. Let’s hope that lesson is well learned.

“The next challenge is to knock back the $5.5 billion in added taxes and charges in the Administration’s budget proposal, which represent a 29 per cent increase over the $19 billion in fees and taxes that airlines and air travelers paid last year. Under such conditions, the natural ability of aviation connectivity to catalyze economic growth and jobs is compromised,” said Tyler. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Middle East | Iata | Passengers | carriers | March |

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