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Not many empty seats on the world’s commercial flights

March 26, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Air travel demand remains strong globally, with load factors on many routes very high. As with everything in aviation, it depends on the carrier and the route, but the fact America filled an average of 83.1% of seats on flights in 2013 is encouraging.

That, according to US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, is a record. And official  forecasts say load factors will rise to 83.8% by 2034.

In the US, seats available in the air are not keeping up with increased demand for air travel – and the big growth area in the US is international travel, not domestic.

US airlines carried 743 million passengers in 2013, the highest annual total since 2008, according to official US statistics. In 2012, US airlines flew 737 million passengers. Meanwhile, the number of flights fell from about 9.3 million in 2012 to slightly less than 9.2 million in 2013.

The biggest increase came from international travel on US carriers, which grew by 3.3% while domestic travel rose by just 0.5%.

The Federal Aviation Administration predicts commercial air travel in the US will  grow at an average pace of about 2.8% each year UHR 2 Article-Banners-250-x-250-pixelsfrom 2014 to 2034.

IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler says that the aviation industry retains on average USD 5.65/passenger in net profit, worldwide. This is improved from USD 2.05 in 2012 and USD 4.13 in 2013. But it is below the USD 6.45 achieved in 2010.

“If you take a regional view on the industry’s performance, you will see that these global trends are all playing out against very different circumstances,” Tyler said.

“In all regions, we are expecting 2014 to be a more profitable year than 2013.”

Speaking regionally, Tyler said:

Asia Pacific airlines are expected to realize a profit of some USD 3.7 billion. The improvement in cargo prospects is helping. But this is being offset by slower growth as counties like India and Indonesia cope with the impact of the turmoil in foreign exchange markets.

“The North American industry is expected to be the largest contributor to global profits. Its airlines are expected to post a combined profit of USD 8.6 billion. The success of the North American industry demonstrates clearly the benefits of consolidation and joint ventures. This continues to the benefit of passengers who gain value both in terms of options and efficiencies from the improved industry structure and from the billions that the carriers are now able to invest in product improvements.”

“The story in Europe is one of carriers benefitting from the ending of austerity measures but still suffering from high taxes, inefficient air traffic management, and onerous regulation. The region is expected to generate some USD 3.1 billion in profit this year.

“The Middle East continues to expand market share by facilitating efficient connectivity through its growing hubs. Cargo performance has been particularly strong on routes connecting Africa and Asia. The region’s carriers are expected to turn a profit of some USD 2.2 billion. The key concern in the region is a by-product of its success. Air traffic congestion in the Gulf is a growing issue that needs urgent attention.

“Latin American airlines are expected to deliver a collective profit of USD 1 billion. The weak economic performances of Brazil and Argentina are dampening prospects. And in many places across the region airport infrastructure constraints remain. The benefit of an improved industry structure, achieved through consolidation, is among the factors helping to balance the impact of poor economic performance.

“African airlines will see the USD 100 million loss of 2013 turn to a USD 100 million profit in 2014. The region faces a familiar list of challenges, including poor infrastructure, high taxes, and restrictive market access policies for intra-Africa connectivity. This is on top of the intensifying competition that the region’s airlines face on long-haul routes. On the positive side, the Abuja Declaration is focusing governments on a commitment to achieve world class safety levels by 2015.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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