Growth in international air traffic slowed in August to the lowest level in five years, according to new figures from IATA.
The global airline trade association also said air cargo volumes shrank for the third month in succession, giving a clear indication that global trade was slowing down.Passenger traffic grew by 5.4 per cent year-on-year in the first six months but slowed to growth of 1.9 per cent in July and 1.3 per cent in August. Capacity growth is outpacing demand leaving airlines with more unfilled seats. Passenger load factors fell to 79.2% a sharp drop-off from the 81% recorded during the same period last year.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA director general, said: “The slowdown has been so sudden that airlines can’t adjust capacity quickly enough. The industry crisis is broadening and no region is immune.”
Mr Bisignani said the fall in the oil price had brought “welcome relief”, but the cost of fuel was still 30 per cent higher than a year ago.
With traffic growth continuing to decline, Iata is forecasting the airline industry will make a net loss of US$5.2bn this year.
International air freight fell 2.7 per cent year-on-year in August following falls of 1.9 per cent in July and 0.8 per cent in June.
The decline has been led by Asia-Pacific carriers, which make up 45 per cent of global air cargo markets and whose international freight shipments suffered a decline of 6.8 per cent year-on-year in August following a drop of 6.5 per cent in July.
Asia-Pacific carriers also reported a 3.1 per cent fall in passenger traffic in August and 0.5 per cent in July partly as a result of the distortion of the Olympics in China and the weakening economic outlook in Japan. IATA said the region’s economies were feeling the impact of the turmoil in financial markets.
Mr Bisignani warned Indian airlines would make a loss of around US$1.5bn this year, the largest losses outside the US, partly because they were “being crippled by enormous taxation on fuel, particularly in domestic markets.”