29 February 2012 11:37 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--January showed a 5.7% rise in global airline passenger demand but an 8.0% decline in cargo flights compared with the same month in 2011, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday.
Both of these trends were exacerbated by the Lunar New Year falling in January this year, as opposed to February in 2011, said the IATA.
“The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilised, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel,” said IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler.
The 5.7% passenger traffic rise compared with January 2011 is slightly higher than the 5.6% year-on-year increase recorded for December 2011.
There was a 2.5% fall in global freight markets from December to January, but this was almost totally attributable to the impact of factory closures because of the Lunar New Year.
European carriers saw a 5.3% gain in traffic versus January 2011. However, persistent economic weakness resulted in a considerable drop from the 9.5% growth recorded in December, despite the attractiveness of the weak euro to tourists and export activity.
“Airlines face two big risks – rising oil prices and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry’s fortunes like the sword of Damocles,” said Tyler.
Jet fuel prices in Europe soared by $73–74/tonne (€54–55/tonne) between 2 February and 28 February – to $1,090.75–1,093.75/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) NWE (northwest Europe) – on the back of crude hikes.
European demand is expected to increase as usual during the spring/summer period, but airlines have been forced to raise fuel surcharges because of increasing costs.
German airline Lufthansa raised the fuel surcharge for Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines flights from 28 February by €4 on short-haul flights (Europe, the Middle East and North Africa) and by €12 on long-haul flights.
($1 = €0.74)
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