Indian domestic air traffic in September plummeted 9.9 per cent compared with a year ago. This was the worst performance for any market, reflecting the slowing economy and capacity reductions that have suppressed domestic air travel.

The September capacity fell 5.9 per cent, decreasing the load factor 2.9 percentage points to 64.9 per cent, the lowest of any market, says International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents some 240 airlines comprising 84 per cent of global air traffic. IATA drew a parallel between China’s domestic travel growth due to that country’s growing economy, and the drop in India’s traffic due to slowing economic conditions.

China factor

Among domestic markets, the IATA report said that air travel in China grew strongly, expanding 11.4 per cent in September compared to the same month last year.

Although China’s economy may not yet have emerged from its slowdown, these domestic air travel results are consistent with recent data on industrial production and consumer spending and incomes, all of which show improvement and point toward an acceleration in economic growth.

There was an improvement in the level of global air travel in September compared to August, which is a standout in the trend over previous months.

Global air travel levels have been mostly flat, held down by business confidence and slowing world trade growth. Because the business environment remains weak, that improvement in air travel is erratic rather than the start of a stronger trend.

On international markets, it said European airlines continue to experience growth in air travel, increasing 5.4 per cent in September compared to a year ago.

This is despite recessionary conditions in several countries in the Euro Zone. West Asia continues to be the fastest growing region, expanding by a strong 13.3 per cent in September on a year ago.

North American airlines, which have been keeping capacity tight, saw demand increase 2.1 per cent in September year-on-year.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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