The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for November showing a softening in passenger markets while air cargo markets remained weak compared to levels attained earlier in the year.
Passenger traffic was 4.3% above November 2010 levels but this is skewed as November 2010 was a particularly weak month. The softening in passenger markets becomes apparent when comparing to the previous month (October 2011). This shows a 0.5% decline on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
Freight markets were 3.1% below November 2010 levels despite a 1.1% increase on October 2011 performance.
“Weak global economic performance is being reflected in air transport markets. Freight markets have contracted some 4% compared to January. Although passenger markets have had some growth relative to the beginning of the year – about 2%– the trend has been both soft and volatile. Continuing economic uncertainty will likely mean market shortcomings deepening as we enter 2012,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Globally, passenger load factors have fallen sharply to 76.3% from 78.5% in October. This shows that the weakness in passenger demand is outpacing airlines’ ability to adjust capacity accordingly. Regional differences are sharp. While North American carriers saw a 0.8% decline in travel, carriers in the Middle East experienced a 10.1% increase, followed by 9.0% for Latin American airlines.
International travel markets continue to be weaker than domestic markets. Compared to October, international demand contracted by 1.5% while domestic demand grew by 1.3%.
African carriers reported 2.6% growth in demand. While this is twice the 1.3% capacity expansion, the region still recorded the weakest load factors of 66.2%.
North American airlines saw international demand shrink by 1.2% (compared to November 2010), roughly in line with a 1.0% reduction in capacity. The fourth quarter uptick in the US economy has yet to be reflected in passenger markets.
Latin American and the Middle Eastern carriers recorded the strongest year-on-year growth at 8.8% and 9.8% respectively. For both regions, capacity increases outstripped the growth in demand with Middle Eastern carriers growing their capacity by 10.4% and Latin American carriers by 11.4%. Latin American economies have remained strong with robust trade activity. Middle Eastern airlines have seen a gain in market share on long-haul markets through price competitive products.
European airlines continued to face the weakest market outlook due to the uncertainty in the Euro-zone. Demand grew 4.9% compared to the previous November while capacity increased by 5.3%. This is a steep change from the 6.4% demand growth recorded for October on a capacity increase of 8.1%. Growth in travel has been supported by business travel on the back of export strength in economies such as Germany.
Asia-Pacific airlines reported 2.4% growth in year-on-year demand which is less than half the 5.4% growth in capacity. The region’s carriers recorded a load factor of 73.3%.