IATA sees air travel slide over August

INTERNATIONAL airline traffic slowed in August compared to July, with the total passenger market down 1.6 per cent and cargo down by 1.3 per cent, industry figures released yesterday showed.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said international markets fell by 1.8 per cent, while domestic markets slipped one per cent.

The fall reflected a slowdown in the global economy, the organisation said.

Although passenger traffic -- measured by the distance of flights and the number of passengers -- was up 4.5 per cent from August 2010, the growth rate was slower than the 6.1 per cent in 2011 so far.

The average passenger load factor, a measure of seat occupancy, fell 1.3 percentage points to 81.4 per cent.

“The industry has shifted gears downward. The pace of growth in passenger markets has dipped and the freight business is now shrinking at a faster pace,” said IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said in a statement.

“With business and consumer confidence continuing to slump globally there is not a lot of optimism for improved conditions any time soon.”

Freight traffic shrank at 3.8 per cent in August from a year previously and was up a mere 0.2 per cent in the year to date.

Passenger traffic is measured in revenue passenger kilometres, which multiplies the number of passengers and the distance travelled, while freight is measured in freight tonne kilometres.