Airlines In Tailspin

by Chris Sturr | January 30, 2009

From the Financial Times:

The airline industry reported on Thursday an “unprecedented and shocking” plunge in global air cargo traffic.

Air freight accounts for 35 per cent of the value of goods traded internationally and the International Air Transport Association said traffic volumes had fallen by 22.6 per cent year-on-year in December.

Giovanni Bisignani, Iata director general, said, “there is no clearer description of the slowdown in world trade. Even in September 2001 (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US), when much of the global fleet was grounded, the decline was only 13.9 per cent.”

International passenger traffic fell in December by 4.6 per cent. Iata said the drop was less dramatic than in cargo, as volumes had been supported by year-end leisure travel that had been booked in advance.

Airlines are still struggling to reduce capacity to match falling demand, however, and are flying with more empty seats. Capacity was reduced by 1.5 per cent year-on-year in December, resulting in airlines filling only 73.8 per cent of available seats, down from 76.2 per cent a year ago.

“Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot save the industry from drowning in red ink,” said Mr Bisignani.

Rest of story here.

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