Airlines saw improved demand in March: IATA

Airline passenger traffic in March was up 10.3 per cent against 9.0 per cent in February this year, while cargo demand grew 28.1 per cent in March against 26.3 per cent in February.

While these are strong gains, the data is being compared to March 2009, which was the low point for international air travel during the recession, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a release.

"March results show that the pace of the upturn is strong. But the trauma of the recession is not over. The industry has lost two years of growth, and passenger and freight markets are still 1 per cent below early 2008 highs. Nonetheless, the pace of improvement, based on an improving global economic situation, is much faster than anybody would have expected even six months ago," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO.

IATA noted that the International Monetary Fund revised global GDP growth forecasts from 3.0 per cent to 4.3 per cent for 2010.

The 10.3 per cent increase in demand represented a 2.0 per cent increase in capacity and the load factor stood at 78.0 per cent in March, a record high, IATA said.

Global capacity use, however, remains 3-4 per cent below pre-crisis levels, IATA noted.