Airlines passenger loads worldwide falling, IATA says


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Ahead of the 2008 Airline Distribution Conference to be held here next week (April 22-24) and organized by UATP, a payment system network provider, airlines worldwide will be greeted by some alarming figures to confirm the economic slowdown in the United States has started to bite into the industry’s revenue.

Latest figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show that the average global passenger load factor (PLF) fell to 73.3 percent in February 2008, the most “significant” drop in four years.

According to IATA, the February 2008 figure shows traffic has fallen 0.6 percentage point below the passenger load factor (PLF) of February last year. The industry recorded 7.4 percent passenger growth in 2007 worldwide.

“When we adjust for the impact of the leap year, passenger demand increased by 4-5 percent,” said Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of IATA. “Demand is still growing, but it is slowing down.”

Load factors from all four major largest carrier regions indicate a decline, said Bisignani.

The European PLF recorded the largest single drop of 1.6 percent to 71.7 percent, while the North American carriers experienced a 0.5 percent drop to 74 percent.

While the Middle East sector showed a 0.9 percentage point drop, falling to 72.6 percent, the Asian carriers saw their PLF fall by 0.1 percentage points to 75.2 percent.

In the Middle East, passenger traffic has been balanced by the oil business. “It is strong growth even taking into consideration the leap year impact,” added Bisignani.