International air traffic recovery strengthens: IATA

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The recovery in international air traffic strengthened in October, with passengers up five percent above pre-economic crisis levels, industry group IATA said Thursday.

"As we approach the end of 2010, growth is returning to a more normal pattern," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association.

"Passenger demand is five percent above pre-crisis levels of early 2008, while freight is one percent above," he added.

He said that the outlook for the industry remained unclear, although, "for the time being, the recovery seems to be strengthening."

In October, passenger demand was up 10.1 percent compared to a year ago, while freight traffic was up 14.4 percent.

Crucially, freight volumes, which have been down since May, have turned positive, IATA noted.

"We are ending 2010 in much better shape than we were just 12 months ago. Airlines have turned losses into profit -- albeit tiny," Bisignani said.

Middle Eastern carriers posted the strongest growth for the month, with an 18 percent jump compared to October last year.

North American airlines recorded a 12.4 percent increase, while their European counterparts showed a 9.6 percent increase.

Asia-Pacific airlines' traffic was up 7.3 percent, while African airlines posted growth of 13.3 percent.

Latin American airlines turned in the weakest growth of 4.9 percent, although this was skewed by the bankruptcy of Mexicana, IATA said.

IATA in September more than tripled its forecast for airline industry profits this year to 8.9 billion dollars as demand picked up.

© 2010 AFP

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