Global airline passenger traffic growth slows: aviation body

Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East showed growth in IATA's latest figures. (gui...

Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East showed growth in IATA's latest figures. (gui jun peng/


, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Global air passenger traffic growth has slowed considerably, and rose by just 4.1% year-on-year in September, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Friday.

Global air cargo demand meanwhile grew just 0.6% in September compared with the same month in 2011, the Geneva-based organisation said in a statement.

Passenger traffic growth in September was disappointing, after growing 6% during the first half of the year and 5.3% in August, IATA said, pointing out that sector growth had started to flatten out in the second quarter this year.

"The fact that airlines are making any money at all with weak markets and high fuel prices is a tribute to their strong business performance," IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said in the statement, before adding: "It's a tough year."

He stressed however that there were significant regional differences in airline passenger traffic growth.

"A two-speed recovery is emerging into a multi-speed reality," he said, pointing out that carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East were growing strongly, while European airlines, which saw 5.4% growth, were struggling to turn profits amid high fixed costs and taxes.

The Middle East had seen the strongest growth, with demand up 13.3% year-on-year, while China saw demand rise 11.4% and Latin America posted 7.5% growth.

"In Africa the challenge is to turn growth opportunities into profits. But for North American airlines the focus is on tightly managing capacity in order to optimize profits in a slow to no-growth environment," Tyler said.

"Asia-Pacific carriers outside of China are a mixed bag. Robust growth in China is being tempered by faltering markets in Japan and India," he added.