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IATA: Demand in premium travel is recovering

Apr 16, 2010

GENEVA, April 15 (Reuters) - Demand for first and business class plane seats is recovering with the revival of global trade, although demand remains below highs reached in 2008, the airline industry association IATA said on Thursday.

"There is still some way to go before premium travel recovers previous highs but the decline looks to have been cyclical and we are now moving into the upturn phase of the cycle," the International Air Transport Association said.

The total number of passengers on international flights was 6.8 percent higher in February than a year earlier, comprising a 5.9 percent increase in first and business class and a 6.9 percent rise at the back of the plane, it said in its monthly premium traffic monitor.

At the end of March IATA said that international passenger kilometers flown -- an important indicator of airline demand -- was 9.5 percent higher in February.

That higher figure compared with passenger numbers reflects the fact that long-haul markets are recovering faster than shorter flights such as within Europe, it said.

Despite the growth in premium numbers -- the most profitable sector for airlines -- IATA noted that demand for economy seats was increasingly driven by business travel.

IATA, whose roughly 230 members include Air France-KLM, Emirates and Taiwan's Eva, said premium travel had recovered 10 percent from its mid-2009 lows, but was still 16 percent below previous highs recorded in early 2008.

IATA: Demand in premium travel is recovering
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