GENEVA - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data showing that the global passenger load factor (PLF) fell to 73.3% in February. This is 0.6 percentage points below the PLF in February 2007. Moreover it is the most significant drop in the PLF in 4 years.
Traffic: Traffic data for February is skewed by the leap year. The extra day hides the continuing slow down in demand. Unadjusted traffic figures showed year-on-year increases of 9.2% and 5.9% for passenger and cargo demand respectively.
When we adjust for the impact of the leap year, passenger demand increased by 4-5% while freight was even more sluggish in the 2-3% range. Demand is still growing. But clearly we are in a different league from the 7.4% and 4.3% growth that we saw in 2007 for passenger and freight respectively. Things are slowing down, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATAs Director General and CEO.
Passenger Load Factors: Load factors tell the story. They fell in the four largest carrier regions showing the growing impact of the US economic slowdown on the airline industry, said Bisignani.
European PLF recorded the largest single drop of 1.6 percentage points to 71.7. Asian carriers saw their PLF fall by 0.1 percentage points to 75.2 while North American airlines experienced a 0.5 percentage point drop to 74.0. The Middle East saw a 0.9 percentage point fall to 72.6%, balanced against a 20.3% growth in passenger traffic supported by the oil business. This is strong growth even taking into consideration the leap year impact.
[Edited 2008-03-31 01:40:32]
[Edited 2008-03-31 01:42:08]