IATA: More people flying, cargo shifts towards ships
The 5.3% increase in passenger demand was slightly down on 2011 growth of 5.9% but above the 5% 20-year average. Load factors for the year were near record levels at 79.1%. Demand in international markets expanded at a faster rate (6.0%) than domestic travel (4.0%). In both cases emerging markets were the main drivers of growth.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw passenger growth of 5.2% in 2012 which was stronger than the 4.0% growth in 2011. European airlines’ passenger traffic expanded 5.3% in 2012, sharply down on the 9.5% growth of 2011. North American carriers reported the slowest international passenger growth of any region at 1.3%, Middle East airlines contributed almost a third of the total expansion in international passenger markets with 15.4% growth. Latin American carriers recorded 8.4% demand growth in 2012, and African airlines had a solid year of growth, up 7.5%.
"Near-record load factors illustrate the extreme care with which airlines manage capacity. Growth and high aircraft utilization combined to help airlines deliver an estimated $6.7 billion profit in 2012 despite high fuel prices. But with a net profit margin of just 1.0% the industry is only just keeping its head above water," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The 1.5% fall in demand for air cargo compared to 2011 marked the second consecutive year of decline, following a 0.6% contraction in 2011. The freight load factor for the year was 45.2%.
"In contrast to the growth in passenger markets the air cargo market contracted by 1.5%. The industry suffered a one-two punch. World trade declined sharply. And the goods that were traded shifted towards bulk commodities more suited for sea shipping. The outstanding bright spot was the development of trade between Asia and Africa which supported strong growth for airlines based in the Middle East (14.7%) and Africa (7.1%)," said Mr. Tyler. ■