Home » Aviation, Customs & Trade » Feb cargo traffic nearing pre-crisis levels

INTERNATIONAL cargo traffic gained ground in February by 26.5% compared to the same month last year, just 3% shy of its pre-crisis level, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

International passenger traffic also increased 9.5% in the same month and only needs an extra 1.4% before hitting the pre-crisis level.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani said the figures are encouraging considering February is traditionally the weakest month for travel.

“We are moving in the right direction. In two to three months, the industry should be back to pre-recession traffic levels,” Bisignani said.

“This is still not a full recovery. The task ahead is to adjust to two years of lost growth.”

European airlines are benefiting least from the strong upturn in air freight volumes, with year-on-year growth of just 7.2% in February, compared to 26.5% on average.

North American airlines, on the other hand, have seen a rebound (+34.1%) equivalent to those experienced by Asia-Pacific (+34.5%) and Latin American airlines (+41.9%).

According to IATA, the strong global air freight upturn has been largely driven by the business inventory cycle and is expected to end in the second half of the year when inventories reach normal levels.

On the passage side, European carriers posted the weakest growth at 4.3%. This is the result of sluggish home economies, rising unemployment and labor strikes. This region saw a capacity reduction in February (-0.5%).

North American airlines posted a weak growth of 4.4%. Having cut capacity deeply during the recession (in February 2010 capacity was 3.0% below 2009 levels), this is to be expected, IATA said. Consumers continue to pay down debt rather than increase spending, keeping demand for air travel comparatively weak.

In contrast to Europe and North America, Asia-Pacific carriers posted strong traffic growth of 13.5%, which was partly boosted by the timing of the Chinese New Year. Compared with the mid-2009 low there has been a 19% rebound.

Middle Eastern airlines recorded traffic growth of 25.8% — the strongest of any region. Travel markets continue to develop within the region creating new demand. Successful competition on long-haul connections to Asia over Middle Eastern hubs has improved market share for the region’s carriers.

Latin American carriers posted growth of 8.5% on strength of the performance of the region’s economies.

African airlines also benefited from strong local economies with a 9.8% uptick. However, capacity is also coming back fast (+9.2%) so airlines in this region continue to see the weakest load factors.

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