Political unrest slows growth in air travel

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Car Rental News - 04/04/2011


Mideast political unrest hit growth in air travel.

The political turmoil that has swept across North African and the Middle East led to slowed growth in the number of air travellers for February. The weakening growth rate was announced by IATA, the International Air Transport Association.

IATA, which represents passengers and freight airlines, said monthly numbers for air passengers were down as a result of travellers choosing to delay journeys. In February, growth fell to six per cent, as unrest in North African and parts of the Middle East upset travel plans, disrupted flights and affected airports.

The revised growth number for January was announced at 8.4 per cent. IATA said the instability in North African and Middle East had shaved an estimated one per cent of international traffic for February. IATA said that political unrest was almost completely responsible for the lower growth in passenger demand.

Air cargo also fell in February, with growth dropping from 8.7 per cent in January to just 2.3 per cent. In this case, however, the slippage in growth was blamed on Chinese New Year, a traditionally slack period that sees factories closed in China.

A third factor also contributed to slower growth in February. Higher oil prices hit travel in many areas , though this factor, too, could in some ways be seen as connected to the Middle East political problems.

March is also expected to be a lean month. The earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March and ensuing problems with the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, which have still to be solved, are forecast to dampen air travel numbers.

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