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IATA Feb 09 results: Freight stabilizes, passenger drops


The International Air Transport Association (www.IATA.org) said international traffic statistics for the month of February showed continuing deterioration in demand. Passenger volumes fell sharply to 10.1% below 2008 levels (from the -5.6% recorded in January). The 5.9% reduction in capacity--the most aggressive since the crisis began--could not keep pace with the fall in demand, pushing the February load factor down to 69.9% (3.2 percentage points below the same month in the previous year). February international freight volumes were 22.1% below 2008 levels. This is the third consecutive month at more than 20% below previous year levels (-23.2 in Jan and -22.6% in Dec).

At Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), 3.4 million passenger trips and 198,000 tonnes of cargo moved in February, representing decreases of 13.7% and 19.7% from the same month of 2008 respectively. Year-on-year, aircraft movements declined 10.5% to 21,235.

Both local resident and visitor traffic were weak during the month. The number of local travellers declined over 20% from February 2008, mainly because the Chinese New Year travel peak fell in January this year whereas the corresponding peak was in February last year. Visitor traffic, particularly from long-haul markets like North America and Europe and regional markets such as North Asia and Taiwan, also reported double-digit decreases.

On the cargo front, most of HKIA's major markets continued to record double-digit decreases during the month. However, as manufacturing activities started to resume after the Chinese New Year holidays, the magnitude of the declines, particularly for North America, Mainland and Taiwan markets, was smaller compared to January.

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of the Airport Authority, said, "Aggregate figures for January and February, which even out the seasonal impact of Chinese New Year, give a better account for the year-on-year comparison. The combined figures show that the airport has served a total of 7.4 million passengers, moved 408,000 tonnes of cargo and handled 45,480 aircraft movements during the first two months of 2009. These represent reductions of 6.7%, 24.7% and 6.2% respectively in comparison with the same period last year.

"Both February's statistics and the combined figures for the last two months show that air traffic volumes continue to suffer from the global economic downturn. It is unlikely that this downward trend will reverse in the short term when the world’s major economies remain in recession. While decline in the total cargo volumes of January and February was less severe than the previous months, it is too early to suggest that the air cargo market has stabilised."

On a rolling 12-month basis, cargo throughput decreased 7.5% year-on-year to 3.5 million tonnes. While passenger volume dropped slightly by 1.0% to 48 million, air traffic movements rose marginally by 0.1%, to 298,190.

The International Air Transport Association (www.IATA.org) said international traffic statistics for the month of February showed continuing deterioration in demand. Passenger volumes fell sharply to 10.1% below 2008 levels (from the -5.6% recorded in January). The 5.9% reduction in capacity--the most aggressive since the crisis began--could not keep pace with the fall in demand, pushing the February load factor down to 69.9% (3.2 percentage points below the same month in the previous year). February international freight volumes were 22.1% below 2008 levels. This is the third consecutive month at more than 20% below previous year levels (-23.2 in Jan and -22.6% in Dec).