Airline passenger traffic rose 5.9 percent last year despite weak conditions, the International Air Transport Association said on Wednesday, predicting that 2012 will be a difficult year for the industry.
“Given the weak conditions in Western economies the passenger market held up well in 2011,” IATA said in a statement, describing the year as one of contrasts.
“Healthy passenger growth, primarily in the first half of the year, was offset by a declining cargo market,” it said.
The Geneva-based association that represents some 240 airlines accounting for 84 percent of global air traffic, noted that cargo fell 0.7 percent last year although it picked up 0.2 percent in December alone.
“Cautious improving business confidence is good news. But 2012 is still going to be a tough year,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO said in the statement.
The average passenger load factor for 2011 was 78.1 percent, hardly changed from the year before but the freight load factor fell to 45.9 percent from 48.1 percent in 2010.
“Ironically, the weak euro supported business travel demand. But Europe’s primarily tax and restrict approach to aviation policy left the continent's carriers with the weakest profitability among the industry's major regions,” IATA said.
Passenger traffic in December rose 5.4 percent compared to the same month in 2010.
“But the trend since mid-year has clearly slowed, as travel markets react with a lag to the declines in confidence that weakened cargo in the second half of 2011,” IATA said.