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Global air traffic to surge 6.4% in 2010, growth easing to +4.7% in 2011 – ICAO

19-Jul-2010

The world’s airlines and airports are experiencing a marked improvement in demand in 2010 after a very challenging 2009. ICAO forecasts airline scheduled traffic of Member States to grow by 6.4% this year in terms of passenger-kilometres performed (PKPs), compared to a decline of 2% in 2009. The “substantial” projected increase reflects positive economic prospects worldwide, based on 4.5% growth in global GDP as forecast by Global Insight.

ICAO passenger traffic forecast by region: 2010 to 2012

Emerging markets leading the way

Traffic for Asia Pacific airlines should grow considerably faster than the global average, due to better economic prospects in China and India, where aviation activity is expected to expand more rapidly. Middle East, Africa and Latin America regions will also enjoy higher traffic growth as economic conditions improve. North American airlines will grow slower than the world average because of lingering economic weaknesses.

With expectations of more than 4% annual growth of the world economy for the next three years, world traffic should grow at 4.7% and 4.9% for 2011 and 2012, respectively, according to ICAO.

Regional traffic (pkm) growth (% change year-on-year): 2009 to 2012F

Region

2009

2010F

2011F

2012F

Africa 

-3.3

9.8

8.5

7.7

Asia Pacific

-0.2

10.8

7.5

7.5

Europe

-3.9

3.5

2.5

2.7

Middle East

9.1

15.5

12.0

11.5

North America

-3.9

2.8

2.2

2.5

Latin America/Caribbean

0.9

9.8

5.5

5.6

World

-2.0

6.4

4.7

4.9

In 2009, PKPs of the world airlines fell by 2% from the already depressed levels of 2008, the steepest drop in air traffic since 2002. Similarly, on the cargo side, freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) fell by 10.6 % from 2008, representing also the largest decline since 2002.

Total world international passenger traffic fell by 3.4% last year.

USD4.1 billion operating loss last year, but better outlook for 2010

Despite the 2009 economic downturn, air carriers were able to narrow their losses last year thanks to “drastic capacity reductions”, which helped cut costs and halt yield dilution, according to ICAO

In 2009, world airlines generated an estimated operating loss of USD4.1 billion. This performance marked a partial recovery from 2008 operating losses of USD8.9 billion, but still far from the record USD19.9 billion operating profit generated by the airline industry in 2007.

According to ICAO, the financial performance of the world’s airlines is “expected to improve in 2010 as traffic rebounds”, without disclosing further details.


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