AEA airlines see 20 million fewer passengers in 2009
The Association of European Airlines saw a decrease in passenger-kilometres of 4.5% with an even greater fall of 5.8% in the number of passengers boarded, from 346 million to just below 326m.
This 20m drop easily surpasses the previously greatest recorded annual traffic loss, of 14m in 2002, following the 9/11 outrage. Given that the year-on-year comparison was with a steadily worsening trend in the 2008 baseline, it is unsurprising that the rate of traffic loss decreased through the later stages of the year, finishing with a December traffic volume no lower, but equally no higher, than in December 2008.
All the main operating regions were amongst the poorer performers; cross-border traffic within Europe was 5.3% down, the North Atlantic minus 5.6% and the Far East minus 5.9%. Traffic to/from the Middle East and Africa managed to buck the trend with a positive growth.
Effective capacity management through the latter part of the Summer helped to mitigate the effect of the traffic downturn and load factors improved year-on-year from July onwards, but insufficient to prevent a small decrease for the year as a whole, down 0.3 points to 76.0%, as overall, passenger capacity decreased by 4.2%.
If the passenger market was very weak, the airfreight market fared much worse, with a decrease of 16.5%. In the largest market for AEA airlines, to/from the Far East, the shortfall was 22.8%. Said AEA Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus: “the stark reality of the figures tells us what we know already – our sector has just come through an astonishing year. The crisis has not receded – its repercussions will be felt well into the future, and in some respects the face of the industry will be changed fundamentally”.