Zurich: Asia powered improved demand for international air traffic in January as both passenger and freight figures jumped by more than the sharp falls triggered by the financial crisis a year ago.
Air freight traffic rose by 28.3% while passenger demand was up 6.4% from a year earlier, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said.
Asia led the rise in air cargo with a jump of more than 38% while passenger demand was up 6.5%.
Still, IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani warned that the recession-hit airline industry faced another tough year as yields -- the profit margins airlines make on passengers and cargo -- remained under pressure.
“We can start to see the future with some cautious optimism, but better volumes do not necessarily mean better profits,” Bisignani said.
Last January, airlines caught in the depth of the crisis scrambled to cut flights as companies shelved business travel and cargo shipments.
Air freight is a good leading indicator of world trade movements since shippers tend to switch to air when speed is more important than cost.
Demand is strengthening, with this January’s traffic showing bigger rises than those in December, when air freight was up by 24.4% and passenger demand was up 4.5%.
Iata also said January freight and passenger demand rose from December when adjusted for seasonal factors.
Air freight fell 10% in 2009, reflecting a fall in global trade which the World Trade Organisation estimated at 12%.
Bisignani said despite recent improvements in volumes passenger yields were still 15% below peak and the industry remained on course for losses of $5.6 billion this year.
Tough times have spurred a fresh round of consolidation, such as a deal sealed last year between British Airways and Spain’s Iberia.
Iata represents some 230 airlines operating 93% of all international traffic. Domestic flights are excluded from its data.