Passenger Traffic Up, Freight Weaker - IATA

February 29, 2012

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The global airline industry faces hurdles from high fuel prices and the euro zone debt crisis, although passenger traffic rose in January from a year earlier and the slide in air freight seems to have tapered off, IATA said on Wednesday.

The International Air Transport Association said air passenger traffic had risen 5.7 percent in January 2012 from a year earlier, a slight acceleration from December.

But freight traffic dropped 8 percent on the year last month. IATA said the decline in air freight stabilised in the fourth quarter of 2011, at levels 4 percent below the 2008 pre-financial crisis peak.

"It appears that freight markets have stabilised, albeit at weak levels, and this is having a positive impact on business-related travel," said IATA's Director General Tony Tyler.

"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," he said.

The euro zone faces the prospect of a recession this year due to its sovereign debt crisis.

Ongoing fears about a confrontation between Iran and the West leading to supply disruption have pushed the price of crude oil higher.