Premium-class air travel soars

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The Independent Online

The number of people buying premium flights rose again in June as the economic recovery kept first-class and business-class seats filled.

But there are signs that growth slowed in the second quarter as economic activity returned to pre-crisis levels, the airline industry association, Iata, said yesterday. Demand for premium tickets in June was 16.6 per cent higher than a year ago, against a 9.5 per cent rise for the economy. Growth for the first half of the year was 11.9 per cent for premium and 6.3 per cent for economy. But annualised growth in the second quarter, adjusted for the disruption from the Icelandic ash cloud, slowed to 9 per cent for premium.

Demand showed wide regional variation, with Asian, South American and Middle Eastern markets strong, but transatlantic routes sluggish. Iata expects airlines to return to the black this year, with profits of $2.5bn (£1.6bn).