IATA: Premium travel remains weak

19th Jan 2010
IATA: Premium travel remains weak

First and business-class travel numbers in November were 20% down on early 2008 levels despite a mid-year upturn, reflecting little business travel growth once seasonal fluctuations are taken into account, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Premium travel, which is an important money maker for airlines, was down 6.7 percent in November from a year earlier. An improvement on October’s 9.7 percent year-to-year decline, but this “was entirely due to the slump in business travel at the same time last year,” the association noted, adding: “month-to-month there was a slight fall in passenger numbers.”

There has been a rise in premium travel in recent months, which is now around 5 percent higher than its May low point, but much of the upturn took place mid-year, since then there has been little further progress once seasonal fluctuations are taken into account. Premium travel numbers are still over 20 percent lower than early 2008 levels.

The association also noted that economy travel was up 3.5 percent in November from a year earlier, with travel levels just 4 percent below where they were in early 2008. The economy increase boosted total numbers 2.4 percent in November from November 2008, with November’s total 6 percent below early 2008 levels.

Seasonally adjusted international passenger totals fell slightly from October to November, but “the trend since March remains upwards,” the association said. “Average annualized growth since that low point in total international passenger numbers has been around 6 percent, which is close to the trend of the past 20 years but only about half the pace of previous post-recession rebounds such as 1992.”


Developing economies, particularly in Asia and South America, are “growing strongly” and the U.S. economy “is showing reasonable growth,” but Europe “remains weak,” the association said.


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