The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for September showing a continued slowdown in the rate of traffic growth. Demand for passenger traffic was 4.1% above the level of September 2011. For air cargo, demand growth was even weaker at 0.6%.
Traffic Growth Continues to Slow in September
|Sep 2012 vs. Sep 2011||RPK Growth||ASK Growth||PLF||FTK Growth||AFTK Growth|
|YTD 2012 vs. YTD 2011||RPK Growth||ASK Growth||PLF||FTK Growth||AFTK Growth|
The above tables display international traffic. For domestic and total traffic, please read the full market analysis (pdf) The growth trend in air travel started to flatten in the second quarter, with no growth in the passenger market between April and August. The year-on-year comparisons are now also starting to show slower rates of growth. In September, passenger travel increased 4.1% on a year ago, down on the 5.3% year-on-year growth rate in August and well below the 6% average growth rate seen throughout the first half of the year. Capacity increased by 3.1% over the year-ago period, and the load factor stood at 80%, up 0.7% points compared to September 2011.
The above tables display international traffic. For domestic and total traffic, please read the full market analysis (pdf)
The growth trend in air travel started to flatten in the second quarter, with no growth in the passenger market between April and August. The year-on-year comparisons are now also starting to show slower rates of growth. In September, passenger travel increased 4.1% on a year ago, down on the 5.3% year-on-year growth rate in August and well below the 6% average growth rate seen throughout the first half of the year. Capacity increased by 3.1% over the year-ago period, and the load factor stood at 80%, up 0.7% points compared to September 2011.
The minor 0.6% year-on-year growth posted for air cargo is less significant than the 0.6% fall in air freight volumes between August and September which is more indicative of the trend. This is the second notable month-on-month fall in air freight growth in as many months. This has eroded the stability in volumes achieved earlier in 2012. Capacity was trimmed 0.6% compared to year-ago levels. This strengthened the freight load factor slightly to 45.6% from 45.1% a year ago.
“A ‘two-speed’ recovery is emerging into a ‘multi-speed’ reality. Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East are growing strongly. Europe’s airlines are experiencing profitless growth in a strategy to manage high fixed costs and taxes. In Africa the challenge is to turn growth opportunities into profits. But for North American airlines the focus is on tightly managing capacity in order to optimize profits in a slow to no-growth environment. Asia-Pacific carriers outside of China are a mixed bag. Robust growth in China is being tempered by faltering markets in Japan and India,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Putting regional diversity aside, the fact that airlines are making any money at all with weak markets and high fuel prices is a tribute to their strong business performance, as evidenced by maintaining global load factors close to 80% since the start of 2012. Even with that, airlines are expected to eke out a global net profit margin of only 0.6%. It’s a tough year,” said Tyler.
International Passenger Markets
September international passenger demand rose 4.9% compared to the year-ago period, with all regions reporting traffic growth. Only Asia-Pacific carriers experienced a decline compared to August. Capacity rose 3.1% for the month, pushing the load factor up 1.3% points to 80.9% compared to a year ago.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Domestic results were mixed. Demand rose 2.6% compared to September 2011, which was a slowdown from the 5% year-on-year increase recorded in August. But September traffic rose 0.5% compared to August. Results varied strongly by country, with China and Brazil making major gains that partly were offset by weakness in India, Japan and the US.
Air Freight (Domestic and International)
Air freight demand rose 0.6% compared to September 2011 but declined 0.6% month-on-month, eroding the small gains seen in August. All the major regions experienced year-on-year declines. The introduction of new consumer products such as the iPhone 5 could offset some downward pressure from the weak business environment.
The Bottom Line: “Tough times deliver innovation. High oil prices have turned fuel management into a fine art of conserving every last drop. Consumer demand for convenience and simplified process supported the development of a whole new way to travel facilitated by e-tickets, bar-coded boarding passes and kiosk technology. And the recent approval of the foundation standard for a New Distribution Capability (NDC) means that travelers are set to benefit from a revolution in airline retailing,” said Tyler.
The World Passenger Symposium (WPS) 2012 boasted attendance of some 600 global leaders from across the travel value chain—including airlines, airports, travel agents and technology companies. The Passenger Services Conference, meeting on the sidelines of the WPS, approved development of NDC based on XML standards. “NDC will enable airlines to retail their products in a modern way and with much greater product transparency to their customers across all channels—including travel agents. Now that the foundation standard is agreed, we are working with partner-experts across the travel value chain to move from theory to reality. Within the next five years, shopping for travel will take place in a much more customer-centric environment,” said Tyler.