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Airline Premium Traffic Spikes - International Air Transport Association

Published May 19, 2010 on Pilot Jobs

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Demand for business and first-class seats continued to rise strongly as economic recovery boosted air travel, the airline industry association IATA said on Monday.


Demand for premium seats in March was 10.8 percent higher than a year ago, rising in the first quarter at an annualized rate of 25 percent compared with the last three months of 2009.

But demand for business and first-class travel -- the most profitable part of airlines' passenger business -- is still 15 percent below pre-crisis levels, the International Air Transport Association said in its latest premium traffic monitor.

That contrasts with a stronger recovery in economy travel, which is back to pre-crisis levels, with demand rising 8.8 percent in March over a year ago, for an annualized increase in the first quarter of 10 percent, it said.

"Growth in both seat classes are being driven by business travel, rather than leisure. As business confidence and world trade have turned up sharply business travelers have returned," IATA said.

But consumer confidence has not recovered to the same extent, with unemployment and consumer debt remaining high, which will slow the recovery in leisure travel, said IATA, whose 230 airline members include British Airways and Singapore Airlines.

The volcanic ash plume in Iceland, which is continuing to disrupt traffic in Europe, is likely to cut overall international traffic numbers by 4 percent in April, it said.

Airlines are also seeing a strong recovery in air cargo demand, which account for some 30 percent of world trade movements by value.

IATA's latest forecast is for cargo demand to rise by 12 percent globally this year after falling 10 percent in volume in 2009, driven by a strong rebound in the Asia-Pacific region, it said in its magazine Airlines International.

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