Global airports see signs of stabilisation in air traffic in Aug-2009, but long road to recovery


Global airport passenger traffic in Jul-2009 showed positive signs of stabilisation, according to Airports Council International (ACI), which represents 597 members operating over 1,679 airports in 177 countries and territories. According to ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens, "this is a scenario where we can draw optimism from a negative. Although overall traffic is still lower than 2008, the gap is narrowing significantly". However, ACI also warned that it "may still be too soon to assume the worst is over".

This is because while contractions in volumes have eased in Jul-2009, traffic in the month came off a negative base in Jul-2008, meaning falls are now compounding. Previous monthly passenger growth comparisons this year have come off a positive 2008 base.

ACI total passenger number growth: Jul-o8 to Jul-09

Softer contractions in passenger traffic in Aug-2009

According to ACI, total traffic worldwide was down by 1.2% in Jul-2009, although this reflects an "improved growth trend", compared to the declines of 5% in Jun-2009 and 8% in May-2009.

Middle East remains resilient, Asia Pac back to growth

Results in a few key markets have also been "most encouraging," with the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Latin America & Caribbean and seeing overall growth in Jul-2009, of 11.0%, 4.2% and 1.5%, respectively, for the first month of growth in 2009.

On the other end of the spectrum, North America, Europe and Africa experienced contractions of 3.9%, 3.8% and 1.4%, respectively. The Middle East is the stand-out performer, growing strongly in Jul-2009 off a strong base in Jul-2008.

ACI Airports Middle East international passenger numbers growth: Jul-08 to Jul-09

Domestic traffic grows for first time in 2009, but international traffic remains depressed

Domestic traffic rose 0.9% last month - the first increase for 2009 - driven by strong results in the Asia Pacific region (+10.1%, thanks to China's weak base last year) and Latin America & Caribbean (+9.5%).

Although total international traffic remained depressed (-3.4%) compared to Jul-2008, this reduction is an improvement over the 7% decline recorded in Jun-2009. The Middle East and Africa regions both reported positive international growth (of 11.6% and 0.7%, respectively).

Freight still depressed but slowly clawing way back up

According to ACI, although freight results are "still below 2008 figures, the steep downward spiral of the first quarters has ceased".

Worldwide freight traffic was down 8.7% in Jul-2009 (international freight down 11.3% with domestic freight down by 3.6%), although this is an improvement from the 13.5% contraction in Jun-2009 and results for January-July period (-17.2 %) or traffic for the past 12 months (-14.7%).

For international freight, the Middle East region was the only region seeing positive growth (+3.5%), while domestically, only the Asia Pacific reported positive results (+12.1%), due in large part due to increased activity at Chinese airports.

Both Latin America & Caribbean and Europe experienced high double-digit international freight contractions in the month (-19.2% and -16.8%), while North America's results were down by 3.5% although this, once again, represented a rising traffic trend.

ACI total cargo volume growth: Jul-08 to Jul-09

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