Ash crisis proves destructive for aviation industry growth
Global air passenger traffic demand slumped 2.4% in April due to the volcano ash crisis causing massive flight cancellations, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported.Event Middle Eastern carriers saw their growth rate slow to 25.9% from the 35.5% recorded in March, while European airlines posted an 11.7% demand drop in April compared to a 6.2% increase in March.”The ash crisis knocked back the global recovery, impacting carriers in all regions. Last month, we were within 1% of pre-crisis traffic levels in 2008. In April, that was pushed back to 7%,” said IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani.”European carriers bore the worst of the volcano’s impact. Their 11.7% drop in passenger traffic could not have come at a worse time. Europe’s slow recovery from the global financial crisis and its currency crisis are already a huge burden on the profitability of its airlines. The uncoordinated and excessive cancellations and unfairly onerous passenger care requirements rubbed salt into the European industry’s wounds.”The April drop in demand in Europe can be attributed to both the flight cancellations (two-thirds of the total decline) and follow-on cancellations due to uncertainty of the availability of air travel (one-third). Early indications for May show a rebound in travel from the disrupted levels in April.Looking ahead, Bisignani challenged Europe to reform its air traffic management. “The ash crisis was an embarrassing wake-up call for European governments. We need leadership to deliver the Single European Sky, fair passenger rights legislation and continent-wide coordination,” said Bisignani.The scale of the ash crisis saw global load factors drop to 76.9% from the 78.0% recorded in March. Freight load factors also dipped to 55.3% from the 57.1% recorded in the previous month. While March traffic was within 1% of pre-crisis levels for both passenger and cargo, this slipped to 7% for passenger and 3% for cargo in April.