Growth in airline premium travel slows in November


The increase in the number of people flying first and business class on international flights slowed in November, but the airline industry body IATA said the upward trend in air travel remained intact.

The year-on-year growth rate for premium travel was 9.6 percent in November, compared to 11.0 percent in October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, noting that November 2009 was a particularly strong month.

At the back of the plane, growth in demand for economy tickets also slowed to 7.0 percent in November from 7.6 percent in October, it said in its monthly premium monitor, Reuters reports.
“Business travel continues to be the key driver for both seat classes and recent improvements in business confidence are a positive lead indicator for air travel in the next few months,” said IATA, whose members include Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Lufthansa .

Premium traffic — the most profitable part of airlines’ passenger business — remained 12 percent below pre-crisis levels in November on a seasonally adjusted basis.

But this appears to have more to do with the lack of a full recovery in business travel drivers such as world trade and equity markets rather than a further shift to economy seats, IATA said.

IATA, whose 230 member airlines cover 93 percent of scheduled international traffic, said last month airlines would return to profit in 2010 and this year at higher levels than previously expected.

The IATA data on business travel follows news that Airbus overtook Boeing in the annual orders race in 2010 after a last-minute airline buying spree highlighted a recovery in emerging markets and the low-fare sector.