Geneva (Thomson Financial) - International air traffic growth continued to slow in March as the industry was hit by soaring fuel costs and the global credit crunch, the International Air Transport Association said Friday.
As a result, IATA's chief urged airlines to move towards consolidation, saying the industry's fortunes "have taken a major turn for the worse".
International traffic grew only 4.0 percent in March compared to a year ago.
IATA noted that the slowdown, particularly in Asia-Pacific traffic growth to just 4.3 percent, was significant as the region's booming economies had been expected to "immunise them (against) the U.S. slowdown".
Middle Eastern carriers continued to post double-digit growth, of 15.4 percent, but this was still sharply lower than the 20.4 percent posted a year earlier. In North America, international traffic increased 6.3 percent while Europe rose 3.7 percent.
Only Latin American traffic posted higher-than-expected growth of 19.7 percent, boosted by strong demand.