Global traffic for May showed a general downward trend in line with deteriorating global economic conditions, Iata said today.
Passenger demand was 4.5% ahead of levels a year earlier but growth was virtually flat compared to April.
Capacity increased by 4% and load factors stood at 77.6%, below the historically high levels recorded in April.
Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “The airline industry is fragile. Relief in oil prices provides some good news. Unfortunately, the softness in oil markets comes on the back of fears of deterioration in the European economy. Business and consumer confidence are falling.
“And we are seeing the first signs of that in slowing demand and softer load factors. This does not bode well for industry profitability.
“Airlines are expected to return a $3 billion profit in 2012 on $631 billion in revenues. That’s a razor-thin 0.5% margin.”
All regions, except the Middle East, saw growth in passenger demand slow in May compared to April.
European carriers posted 4.1% growth on international services over May 2011 but this was “significantly below” the 5.7% year-on-year growth recorded for April.
“Traffic growth for European carriers basically stopped at the end of 2011,” Iata said. “Since the beginning of 2012, the growth trend has been basically flat, in line with the economic pessimism throughout the continent.”
Tyler added: “Whether bringing people together or moving cargo around the globe, aviation is vital to modern life.
“The G-20 leaders recognised the critical role of aviation which is the backbone of travel and tourism that is a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development.
“Now we need governments to move from recognition to action with tax policies that don’t kill growth, regulation that enables growth and infrastructure to accommodate growth.”
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