Terrorist attacks, economic shocks stifle air travel
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said global passenger traffic growth has continued to increase, albeit at a slower pace, reflecting economic and political uncertainties worldwide apart from a wave of terrorist attacks in Europe.
Data compiled by IATA showed demand, in terms of revenue passenger kilometers, was up 5.2 percent in June compared to a year ago. IATA noted the June data was also higher by 4.8 percent compared to the previous month.
However, the trade association of the world’s airlines warned the upward trend in seasonally-adjusted traffic “has moderated since January.”
“The demand for travel continues to increase, but at a slower pace. The fragile and uncertain economic backdrop, political shocks and a wave of terrorist attacks are all contributing to a softer demand environment,” Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO, said in a statement.
This was in reference to a number of terrorist attacks, including the bombing of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the country’s main gateway, last June 28. The attack claimed over 48 lives.
According to IATA, June international passenger demand rose 5 percent compared to June 2015.
All regions recorded growth, led by airlines in Latin America. Capacity climbed 6.4 percent, causing load factor to slide 1.1 percentage points to 79.4 percent. Load factor is a measure of flight utilization.
Carriers from Asia-Pacific were the second-fastest, growing at 8.2 percent in June compared to the same period in 2015.
“However, most of the growth relates to the strong upward trend in traffic seen in the final months of 2015 and into 2016, with June demand barely higher than in February,” IATA noted.
“This could be a natural pause, but possibly is also a sign of Asian passengers being put off travel by terrorism in Europe,” it added.
The smallest increase came from European carriers, IATA said, after demand rose only 2.1 percent.
“While demand tends to recover reasonably quickly after such events, the repeated nature of the attacks may have a more lasting impact,” IATA noted.
North American carriers, meanwhile, saw demand increase 4 percent, while Middle Eastern carriers posted a 7.5 percent growth.
IATA’s Tyler said aviation and aviation-related tourism still delivered $2.7 trillion in economic impact and supported an estimated 62.7 million jobs worldwide.
“It is a powerful force for good in our world. It is too soon to know whether recent terrorist attacks will have a long-term negative influence on demand, nor what will be the impact of Brexit and the events in Turkey,” Tyler added.
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