Demand for both international air travel and air freight accelerated in March with the rebound on the back of economic recovery exceeding expectations, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this week. IATA said the air traffic recovery would dip in April because of the disruption from the Icelandic volcanic eruption, which hit European carriers in particular, and added that passenger and freight markets are still one per cent below early 2008 highs and the industry has lost two years of growth, according to IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani. “Nonetheless, the pace of improvement, based on an improving global economic situation, is much faster than anybody would have expected even six months ago,” he said. Cargo demand rose 28.1 per cent in March compared with a year earlier while passenger demand was up 10.3 per cent. It was the fourth month in succession that year-on-year growth in freight demand had exceeded 20 per cent, and the third month to see passenger demand over 5 per cent. Demand was now growing at a faster pace than capacity, IATA said. That drove the freight load factor to 57.1 per cent and the passenger load factor to a record 78.0 per cent in March. IATA also said the six-day shutdown of much of European airspace this month cost airlines US$1.7 billion in lost revenues, most of this borne by European carriers who were already showing the weakest recovery from the crisis, IATA said.
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