The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global traffic results for January showing a 5.7% rise in passenger demand but an 8.0% decline in air freight compared to the same month in 2011. The occurrence of Chinese New Year in January (rather than in February as in 2011) exaggerated the increase in passenger demand and the fall in air freight. Stripping this out, the underlying trend was for stronger passenger growth, while stabilized weakness in cargo markets continues.
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.
Freight markets stood at 8% below January 2011 levels. The decline in air freight stabilized in the fourth quarter of 2011, at levels 4% below the 2008 pre-crisis peak. There was a 2.5% fall in global freight markets from December to January, but this is almost totally attributable to the impact of factory closures due to the Chinese New Year. 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.