Worldwide air volumes up

But oil prices worry industry

Worldwide, scheduled air traffic statistics show a general trend of improving volumes, said the International Air Transport Association.

The association, which represents 230 airlines comprising 93 per cent of international air traffic, said that January 2011 showed an 8.2 per cent increase in volume compared to January 2010. Freight volumes were up by 9.1 per cent.

And while the figures were promising, said Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani, the industry was casting a wary eye at unfolding events in the Middle East.

“The region’s instability has sent oil prices skyrocketing. Our current forecast is based on an average annual oil price of US$84 per barrel. Today the price is over $100. For each dollar it increases, the industry is challenged to recover $1.6 billion in additional costs.

“With $598 billion in revenues, $9.1 billion in profits and a profit margin of just 1.5 per cent, even with good news on traffic 2011 is starting out as a very challenging year for airlines,” warned Mr Bisignani.

Geographically, one of the drivers for increased air travel is the China.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said that the country plans to invest US$227.8 billion in its aviation industry over the next five years, building 45 new airports and adding 700 aircraft.

Air travel was up by 15.8 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009, reported the aviation administration.