Air travel recovers to "pre-recession" levels

Air travel in May jumped above pre-recession levels for the first time, according to data released June 29 by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Passenger traffic now stands at 1 percent above pre-recession levels, following an 11.7 percent increase year-on-year during the month of May.

The figures are excellent news for the beleaguered air travel industry, which has experienced a significant fall in passenger figures and customer confidence following the recession, a series of strikes and the grounding of aircraft after the eruption of Eyjafjoell in Iceland.

Europe remained the area with the weakest growth (8.3 percent) in May, said IATA, while Latin American carriers were the strongest, showing a 23.6 percent rise year-on-year.

Passenger demand on Middle Eastern carriers grew 17.5 percent and African carriers reported a demand increase of 16.9 percent.

Despite a capacity (the number of seats available to fly in) increase of 4.8 percent in May, IATA said that on average, planes were over three quarters full.

IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said that airlines needed to focus their efforts on nurturing the recovery, simultaneously blasting governments for a "short-sighted policy myopia."

He said that passengers "deserved better" after the German government approved a new 1 billion departure tax on air travel and the British government scrapped the proposed third runway at London's congested Heathrow airport.

http://www.iata.org

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