IATA says Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 5.9% increase in passenger demand in February, roughly in line with a 6.2% increase in capacity. Load factors stood at 75.4%. Following a small spike in international travel over the Chinese New Year period in January (6.4% growth) February traffic declined.
Middle East carriers, meanwhile, have “fully recovered” from the Arab Spring says the trade body, posting 23.4% international growth – a rate distorted by the poor performance in February 2011 owing to the impact of the political unrest.
Capacity growth stood at 16.1%. Average load factors for the region showed the most dramatic improvement to 76.9% in February 2012 compared to 72.4% in the previous year. Stripping out the distortions, we estimate that the region has now fully recovered.
India experienced the second strongest growth among the major domestic markets at 12.3%. This lagged behind the 16.3% increase in capacity over previous-year levels. Nonetheless, India’s carriers filled 75.4% of seats – although clearly weak yields, infrastructure problems and costs mean the market is still far from healthy.
China’s domestic market stood at 10.1% above previous-year levels. This is significantly down from the 17.3% growth in January owing to strong Chinese New Year traffic. Load factors were the highest among domestic markets at 79.3%.
Japanese domestic performance continues to suffer from the impact of last year’s earthquake and tsunami combined with a tightening of capacity due to industry restructuring. Demand was 8.8% below previous-year levels while capacity stood at -6.0%. Load factors were the weakest among the major domestic markets at 61.4%.
Air freight volumes increased in February from a year ago by 5.2%. This was largely as a result of cargo shipments that were postponed in January due to the Chinese New Year holiday and the comparison to the previous year which was impacted by weak demand associated with the Arab Spring. Air freight volumes showed a decline on January’s performance of 1.2%.
Cargo growth was led by Middle East carriers with an 18.2% increase in demand which was matched exactly with an 18.2% increase in capacity. The largest volume contributor to February’s growth, however, was the Asia-Pacific region which posted a 10.2% year-on-year gain.
Globally,IATA saw a 8.6% improvement in passenger demand and a 5.2% rise in cargo demand compared to the same month in the previous year.