(Muscat) “August figures confirm the positive recovery trend of June and July, with international passenger traffic increasing in all regions and freight traffic holding a steady course. This is encouraging news for our beleaguered industry,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA`s Director General and CEO speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Muscat, Oman.
Traffic recovery is definitely underway, but industry recovery is not yet uniform. Although Middle East traffic figures are excellent, Arab carriers should still take a fresh look at membership in one of the global alliances. Time has come to think about an Arab single market in order to help this region keep up with global trends, Bisignani concluded.
Preliminary IATA passenger traffic results for August 2003 are running only 0.3% below August 2002, as compared to the wider gap of 3.6% recorded in July 2003 against July 2002. For the first eight months of this year, the year-to-date recovery trend continues with worldwide traffic 5.7% below the same period for 2002. IATA now forecasts that overall international passenger traffic levels in 2003 will be approximately 1% lower than 2002 by year end if stable conditions prevail.
Four regions recorded an improvement in international passenger traffic over August 2002: Europe (4.4%), South America (8.2%), Africa (1.6%) and Middle East (18.7%). Although still below August 2002 results, North America at -6.5% and Asia Pacific at -4.6% continue to narrow the gap with results from previous months showing 1.3 and 13.4 percentage point gains respectively over Julys year-on-year results.Ê
Over the past three months, the Asia Pacific carriers have continued to climb steadily back from their lowest traffic levels at the height of the SARS virus outbreak.
Overall capacity was down by 1.4%, contributing to an August passenger load factor of 79.5%.Ê This figure compares favourably to load factors of 73% in June and 77.5% in July.
In the international freight market, overall traffic increased 3.6% in August, as compared to August 2002. With growth slowing slightly in most regions, the year-to-date growth rate reached 6%, as compared to 6.4% reported in July. The Middle East region growth rate ranked highest at 15.2%, followed by Africa at 10.4% and North America at 9%.
IATA represents over 270 airlines comprising 98% of international scheduled air traffic.