The world's airline industry posted yet another banner month in March, as demand for international passenger service grew 10.3 percent and cargo demand increased 28.1 percent over the same month a year earlier, according to statistics released today by the International Air Transport Association. Both figures represent improvements over the 9 percent and 26.3 percent respective passenger and cargo growth recorded by the industry in February.
Meanwhile, the industry posted a record load factor of 78 percent, as the 10.3-percent passenger traffic gain far outpaced a 2-percent capacity increase. International freight markets also continued to experience tighter supply and demand conditions, as the 28.1-percent demand improvement and a 5.3-percent capacity expansion resulted in a load factor of 57.1 percent-the highest rate since the industry posted a 5.8-percent load factor in November 2002.
"March results show that the pace of the upturn is strong," said IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani. "The industry has lost two years of growth, and passenger and freight markets are still 1 percent below early 2008 highs. Nonetheless, the pace of improvement, based on an improving global economic situation, is much faster than anybody would have expected even six months ago."
While Middle Eastern carriers continued their pattern of posting the strongest traffic gains, at 25.9 percent, even North America's carriers posted a marked improvement over the gains they recorded in February. In fact, North American carriers, while showing traffic growth of 7.8 percent, drew the highest load factors (81.6 percent) of all the regions evaluated due to what IATA called continued careful capacity management.