Air-Traffic Growth Slows on Japan Earthquake, Arab Unrest
International passenger traffic rose 3.8 percent in the month versus a year earlier, compared with a 5.8 percent gain in February, with the March 11 quake and Mideast unrest each responsible for about half of the slippage, the trade body said.
Japanese domestic travel fell 22 percent, while Egypt and Tunisia experienced traffic levels as much as 25 percent below normal for March and military action in Libya stopped virtually all flights to, from and within the country, IATA said. Demand will remain depressed through the current quarter, it added.
“The profile of the recovery in air transport sharply decelerated in March,” IATA Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement. Economic growth may spur a second-half rebound, though “the big uncertainty is the price of oil,” which is hurting leisure travel in particular, he said.
The slowdown in traffic in March came as carriers expanded capacity by 8.6 percent, IATA said, a combination that sent load factors, a measure of seat occupancy, tumbling 3.5 percentage points to 74.6 percent.
Still, cargo traffic increased 3.7 percent in the month, accelerating from a 1.8 percent advance in February, when shipments from parts of Asia were limited by plant closures associated with the Chinese New Year.
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