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Trouble in the U.S. and global economies hasn't stopped airlines from posting strong growth in traffic, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). International airfreight demand grew 5 percent in September, and while that's down from 6 percent in August, it remains well above the weak growth rates experienced in the first half of 2007. Year-to-date growth in freight demand improved to 4 percent. The Asia-Pacific region, with 7 percent growth, continued to drive global improvement, although the Middle East saw a rise of 8.2 percent, following a 3.5-percent decline in August. A drop in demand in southern Africa caused a 10.4-percent plunge in freight demand in the African continent.
International passenger growth was up as well, rising by 8.2 percent in September, well above the 7.3-percent figure for the year to date. Demand was driven by global economic growth, IATA said. The improvement was also a reflection of the security scares that disrupted passenger services during the same period of 2006. "Traffic demand remains strong despite the financial instability seen in recent months," said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive officer of IATA. But a continuing increase in fuel prices and the adjustment of corporate travel budgets could put a damper on future growth. "So there can be no letup in the imperative to keep costs down and planes full," he said.
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