Financial crunch hits African aviation

The downward turn in the global economy hit African aviation hard in October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says.
The global air transport champion says October was another bad month for international air traffic and the second consecutive month of global decline.
International passenger traffic declined by 1.3% compared to the same month in the previous year—a smaller decline than the 2.9% drop experienced in September.
The October load factor was 75%, approximately 2% below previous year levels. International air freight traffic contracted by 7.9% in October for a fifth consecutive month of increasingly severe drops.
African carriers saw the largest decline with international traffic dropping by 12.9% in October.
IATA says it is the only region where traffic deteriorated relative to September. This continues the year-long trend of Africa being the weakest market for air traffic with falls in both intercontinental and regional travel.
“The gloom continues and the situation of the industry remains critical,” says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA`s Director General and CEO.
“While the drop in oil prices is welcome relief, recession is now the biggest threat to airline profitability. The slight slowing in the decline of passenger traffic is likely only temporary. The deepening slump in cargo markets is a clear indication that the worst is yet to come.” 

However, in sharp contrast to passenger performance, African carriers saw a 3% improvement in cargo during October. “This reflects trade growth within Africa,” Bisignani says.
“As the global economic downturn re-shapes the world`s financial industry, policy makers must also understand that change is needed in air transport. Unlike the finance industry, airlines are not asking for handouts. Commercial freedom, efficiency and a fair treatment in taxes are needed,” the straight-talking Bisignani adds.
“We need commercial freedoms to run this as a normal business.”