Gulf carriers outpace APAC rivals

Middle Eastern airlines saw annual traffic growth rates more than double those of their Asia-Pacific rivals in January, adding to evidence of a shift in power to the Gulf carrier's and their hubs.

1st Mar 2012


Middle Eastern airlines saw annual traffic growth rates more than double those of their Asia-Pacific rivals in January, adding to evidence of a shift in power to the Gulf carrier's and their hubs.

Middle East carriers saw traffic rise by 14.5% in January compared to the same period for the previous year. This more than matched a 10.6% increase in capacity and saw load factors rise 2.7 points to 78.5%.

"This was by far the largest rate of growth for any region and represents a return to the rates experienced in 2010," noted IATA.

Asia-Pacific carriers. meanwhile, saw traffic rise 6% over the same period, below a 6.4% increase in capacity. As a result, load factors dipped slightly to 77.5%. However, the figures received a significant boost from the early timing of Chinese New Year.

Asia-Pacific carriers also saw a steep 14% decline in cargo traffic against January 2011 - although this is largely explained by the Chinese New Year factory shutdown. Even so, Middle East carriers were again outpacing the Asia-Pacific carriers, with a 9.4% rise in demand.

IATA said that the fourth quarter of 2011 marked the end in the decline in the freight markets, which had experienced a tough year. Overall, January figures showed an 8.1% decline in international freight, partly due to the Chinese holiday period. IATA says a 2.5% drop in freight demand from December 2011 to January this year is almost entirely down to the Chinese New Year shutdown. Global freight volumes are running at around 4% below 2008 peak levels.

Freight capacity contracted by 0.6% year over year, and freight load factor fell to 41% (from 44.3% in January 2011) as deliveries of new widebody passenger aircraft offset measures to reduce freight capacity, says IATA.

The impact of Chinese New Year-related passenger traffic was evidenced in China’s domestic market, which surged 16.8% year over year on a 14.3% lift in capacity, pushing load factor to 80.8%, the highest recorded for domestic traffic. On a seasonally adjusted basis, traffic rose 3.2% compared to December. The Chinese market now accounts for more than 21% of the total global domestic market.

Japan's traffic was 8.9% below previous year levels, slightly more than the 8.3% contraction in capacity. Year to year comparisons are affected by the impact of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as industry restructuring.

India traffic rose 8.8% year over year, while capacity expanded 12.8% and load factor was 74.9%. Demand rose 0.9% compared to December.

Global IATA traffic results for January showed a 5.7% rise in passenger demand but an 8.0% decline in air freight compared to the same month in 2011 - IATA says both trends were exaggerated by the Chinese New Year falling early.

Total January passenger demand rose 5.7% compared to January 2011 a slight acceleration from the 5.6% year over year increase recorded for December 2011. With January passenger capacity up 4.2%, average load factor rose 1.1 percentage points to 76.6% compared to the same month a year ago.

“The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilized, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel. However, airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry’s fortunes like the sword of Damocles,” said IATA’s director general and CEO Tony Tyler.

 

 

Asian Aviation at a glance