Friday, October 24, 2008

Airline Passenger Traffic Drops Worldwide

Passenger and cargo traffic on the world's airlines suffered an alarming decline in September amid the world's financial crisis, and airline losses may be even higher than $5.2 billion this year, an industry association said Friday.

Passenger traffic declined 2.9 percent over September 2007, "the first time since the SARS crisis in 2003 that global passenger traffic has shrunk," said the International Air Transport Association, referring to Asia's outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

"The deterioration in traffic is alarmingly fast-paced and widespread," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general. "Even the good news that the oil price has fallen to half its July peak is not enough to offset the impact of the drop in demand."

At the current rate, airline industry losses may be even deeper than IATA's earlier forecast of $5.2 billion for this year, Bisignani said. IATA said airlines reduced capacity but were unable to keep pace with the fall in demand.

Cargo traffic dropped 7.7 percent over the year-earlier figure, it said. The statement gave only the percentage changes, but not the actual numbers for this year and last.

The association said all major regions except Latin America reported a decline in passenger traffic. Latin American carriers had an increase of 1.7 percent, but that was "shockingly down from the 11.9 percent growth of the previous month," IATA said.

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