Global airlines started 2014 with a combined 4.5 percent increase in global air freight traffic and 7.8 percent increase in international passenger demand for January compared to the same period a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) latest global Air Traffic (AT) report.
Carriers based in the Middle East lead all regions for growth in both categories, with an 18 percent increase in passenger demand and a 10.7 percent increase compared to January 2013. In contrast, North American carriers experienced just a 3.5 percent increase in passenger traffic and a 0.7 percent increase in airfreight demand.
“2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions,” said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of IATA.
IATA measures freight traffic in Freight Ton Kilometers (FTK) and Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPK) to measure actual passenger traffic.
Tyler said IATA's goal at the upcoming World Cargo Symposium is to help push air freight carriers towards investing in new technologies to improve security and efficiency in their air freight operations.
European carriers saw passenger demand climb by a combined 6.4 percent, which IATA attributes to "modest economic improvements in the Eurozone" and "rising consumer and business confidence." Eurocontrol, the European Union's AT management agency is also starting to deploy the initial regionalized Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers as part of its SESAR program to start streamlining AT flows in a more efficient manner as well.
Domestically, China experienced a 20 percent increase in passenger demand compared to the year-ago period, although IATA attributes that growth to the date of this year’s Chinese New Year.
“The second century of commercial aviation has begun on a positive note, with AT demand rising in line with generally positive economic indicators. While this is in line with an improved overall outlook for 2014, aviation remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Rising geopolitical tensions around the world have the potential to cast shadows on this optimistic outlook,” said Tyler.