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World airline passenger traffic set to rebound


World airline passenger traffic set to rebound in 2004 - UN aviation agency

World airline passenger traffic is forecast to rebound with 4.4 per cent growth in 2004 and 6.3 per cent in 2005 following three years of decline or stagnation, thanks to a gradual restoration of confidence and an improving world economy, the United Nations aviation agency said today.

In 2001, domestic and international scheduled passenger traffic, measured in terms of passenger-kilometres performed (PKPs), fell by 2.9 per cent as a result of a slowing world economy and the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) noted.

These effects continued into 2002 and were intensified by the build up to war in Iraq; traffic last year grew only marginally, by 0.4 per cent. Traffic fell in the first part of 2003 because of the war and particularly the impact of concerns regarding Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Recovery is now under way and traffic for 2003 is expected to be about the same as in 2002 on a year-on-year basis.

The ICAO forecasts assume gradual restoration of passenger confidence in international travel, improved application and facilitation of aviation security measures, an improving world economy and a stable operating environment. In the longer term, global scheduled passenger traffic growth can be expected to proceed at an average annual rate of around 4 per cent, slightly lower than pre-2001 trend projections and with about a three year time lag.

Traffic development will vary by geographical region because of the impact of local, intra- and inter-regional factors. Traffic development of both North American and European carriers is stabilizing, with an expected "zero growth" in 2003 before recovery gets fully under way in 2004 and 2005. North American carriers were hardest hit by the shrinking demand following 11 September 2001, and their passenger traffic is expected to recover to year 2000 levels only by 2004.

Scheduled passenger traffic of airlines based in Asia/Pacific, which were generally hardest hit by the effects on travel of SARS, is expected to decline by 0.8 per cent in 2003 but to recover at the rates of 4.9 per cent and 6.8 per cent for the years 2004 and 2005. Carriers of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America and the Caribbean are forecast to achieve moderate passenger traffic growth in 2003, with increased growth from 2004 onwards.


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