Sunday, January 31, 2010

African airlines in historic profit drop

African airlines recorded a 6.8 per cent decline in the number of passengers in 2009, but prospects looked good for the month of D ecember, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a report Wed n esday.

The African airlines recorded lower than average performance in passengers, main ly worsened by the weak profits that most airlines within the continent recorded

in 2009.

??In terms of demand, 2009 goes in history books as the worst year the industry has ever seen,?? AITA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said.

African airlines, which provide a major link to international travelers within t he continent, showed signs of profit recovery in December, 2009. During the mont h , the airlines recorded impressive number of passengers, with volumes 3.1 per ce n t higher.

African carriers have been victims of the wildcat oil price hikes. They were als o affected by the effects of the global economic down-turn. This affected carrie r s which partly supplement their profits with cargo volumes.

??We have permanently lost 2.5 years of growth in passenger markets and 3.5 yea rs of growth in the freight business,?? said Bisignani.

International passenger capacity fell 0.7% in December 2009 while freight capaci ty grew 0.6% above December 2008 levels.

Yields have started to improve with tighter supply-demand conditions in recent m onths, but they remained 5-10% down on 2008 levels.

??Revenue improvements will be at a much slower pace than the demand growth tha t we are starting to see. Profitability will be even slower to recover and airli n es will lose an expected US$ 5.6 billion in 2010,?? said Bisignani.

Seasonally adjusted demand figures for December compared to November 2009 indica te a 1.6% rise in passenger traffic. Freight volumes, however, remained weak.

Most airlines were able to fly more passengers on every flight, with the average industry figures showing an impressive 77 per cent passenger load on every flig h t.

Industry figures also show that the cargo market may be getting much better. Acc ording to AITA, the latest figures show the amount of new freight orders may be a t a 44-month high.

The December 2009 freight demand showed a 24.4% improvement on December 2008 wit h a load factor of 54.1%. This improvement is exaggerated by the exceptionally w e ak performance in December 2008 which was the low point.

Freight demand is still 7% lower than the peak in early 2008.

However, optimism is returning to the industry as purchasing managers survey ind icators reached a 44-month high in December pointing towards increased freight v o lumes in the coming months.

Asia-Pacific carriers accounted for over 60% of the increase in international ai r freight markets over the past 12 months - outperforming their 45% market share .
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA)

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