Air traffic demand improving, profit far away: IATA

Air traffic demand is recovering from the steep slump caused by the global recession but the airline industry remains well away from a return to profit, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said today.
The IATA data added to news which has suggested the global economy was slowly recovering from the deepest recession since World War Two, Reuters reports.
“Demand continues to improve, but profitability remains ever distant,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO in a statement. “Fares have stabilised, but at profitless levels. Meanwhile cost pressures are mounting from reduced aircraft utilisation and rising oil prices,” he said.
Airlines carried 9.6 % less cargo in August year-on-year, while passenger demand fell 1.1 %, said IATA which represents 230 airlines comprising 93 % of scheduled international air traffic.
Demand was well off the lows hit earlier in the recession, IATA said. Freight levels were 12 % above the low-point hit in December 2008 and passenger demand was 6 % higher than the low in March 2009.
Air freight demand was down 18 % in the first eight months of 2009 compared to the year-ago period, while passenger demand was down 6 %.
IATA said Latin American and Middle Eastern carriers saw freight demand growing on the year in August and the Middle East was also the only region to record rising passenger demand.
In August, the passenger load factor improved by 1.2 % points on the year to 80.9 % but average fares were 22 % lower for premium seats and 18 % down for economy seats.
IATA said earlier this month it expected a loss of $11 billion (R81 billion) for the industry in 2009 and a $3.8 billion (R28 billion) loss in 2010.

Pic: Plane taking off during the sunset