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Airline Traffic Continues Downturn

The Association of European Airlines has released traffic figures for the week ending September 7. While generally an improvement on the previous week, the results gave little cause for encouragement. This was especially the case since a damaging pilot strike in weeks 36-37 of 2002 depressed the baseline, causing this year’s figures to be artificially inflated.

Bearing this in mind, the growth of only 1.5% on intra-European services was a particular cause for concern. The North Atlantic, at plus 9.5%, returned to the level it had sustained before the previous week’s downturn. The minus 1.9% recorded on Far Eastern routes represented a genuine improvement on previous weeks, however, even allowing for any baseline distortion.

In situations such as this, it is impossible to determine how much traffic is lost, and how much is redistributed, said the association.

Meanwhile, preliminary International Air Transport Association traffic figures for July 2003 show a 3.6% drop in international passenger traffic over July 2002. This is much improved over final traffic figures for June that indicated a 12.4% decrease over June 2002. Greatest improvement was seen with SARS-hit Asia Pacific carriers. Their traffic was 14.0% below July 2002 levels, an advance on the 32%% year-on-year drop recorded in June.

For the first seven months of the year, overall passenger traffic is 6.5% below 2002 levels. North American, Asia Pacific and European carriers saw traffic drop 10.6%, 15.5% and 0.5% respectively. South American and Middle Eastern traffic for January to July improved 8.6% and 7.5% for the same period.

Overall capacity fell by 4.1% leading to a July passenger load factor of 77.7%. This figure compares favourably to the 73.0% recorded in June.

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