Air passenger travel surges 9.3% in Nov 2007: IATA

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New Delhi, Jan 4 (UNI) International passenger demand rose 9.3 per cent year-on-year in November 2007 -- the fastest growth recorded in 18 months, reports show.

This was higher than the 7.7 per cent growth recorded in October and the 7.5 per cent rise recorded over the first 11 months of 2007, figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the month show.

The November surge in passenger demand helped the aviation industry in combating high oil prices and helping airlines end 2007 with an industry profit of 5.6 billion dollars -- the first since 2000.

Average international passenger load factors stood at 75.4 per cent in November, that is 1.1 percentage points higher than in November 2006.

Passenger demand results proved strong across most regions with Asia Pacific (8.8 per cent), North America (7.6 per cent) and Europe (7.6 per cent) recording robust growth in November. There no sign yet of any weakening in demand as a result of economic uncertainty.

Latin American carriers recorded a 20.1 per cent increase reflecting a strong recovery in traffic share following the impact of industry restructuring during 2006.

While West Asia carriers displayed four years of double-digit growth with an 18.3 per cent increase, African carriers' growth slowed to 5.8 per cent, the figures showed.

Sluggish growth in freight traffic was apparent due to strong competition with shipping and uncertainty over the economic outlook for 2008.

Another concern was the slowdown in international freight demand growth to 3.5 per cent in November from 3.6 per cent in October.

Freight demand in the first 11 months of 2007 grew 3.9 per cent, well below the 4.8 per cent recorded over the same period in 2006.

Describing it as "a mixed picture", Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO, however appeared guarded about the industry's prospects in the year just begun.

"We ring in 2008 with a warning bell. Passenger demand growth is expected to fall to five per cent. And the expected increase in freight demand growth to 4.3 per cent will only help us recover some of the ground lost against sea shipping,'' he said in a statement.

High oil prices and the impact of the credit crunch will see industry profitability slip to five billion dollars in 2008, he added.

Since 2001 efficiency gains have been impressive with 64 per cent improvement in labour productivity, 25 per cent reduction in sales and marketing unit costs and a 16 per cent decrease in non-fuel unit costs.


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