Global airline recovery to suffer from volcano chaos: IATA

28th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

European airlines are likely to be hit the hardest by a dip in the recovery for global air travel caused by the Iceland volcanic ash shutdown, IATA warned on Wednesday.

Latest International Air Transport Association data showed that passenger traffic rose 10.3 percent in March, while air freight grew 28.1 percent year-on-year as the recovery from the economic crisis accelerated.

But European carriers lagged behind the global average with just six percent growth in March.

"The strong traffic recovery is expected to show a dip in April as a result of the eruption of an Icelandic volcano ... that saw the shutdown of large portions of European airspace over a six-day period," IATA said.

IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani predicted that European carriers would suffer the most from the travel chaos, despite an expected swift rebound.

"European carriers were already showing the weakest recovery from the (global) financial crisis through March. The volcanic ash crisis hit the weakest part of the industry the hardest," he said in a statement.

"The majority of the 1.7 billion dollars in lost revenues was by Europe's carriers.

"The combined impact of lost business and added costs will certainly hit the bottom line. Passenger confidence is not affected and we expect a quick rebound," he added.

Overall, the recovery in international air traffic accelerated last month, led by year-on-year growth in the Middle East of 25.9 percent, with Asia on 12.6 percent and North America 7.8 percent.

IATA cautioned that although the gains were strong, the data was being compared to March 2009, which was the low point for international air travel during the recession.

IATA estimates that passenger and air cargo markets are still one percent below their early 2008 peaks, while the industry has lost two years of growth due to the financial and economic crisis.

© 2010 AFP

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