Air travel, freight declines accelerated in November, IATA says


Worldwide air travel fell for a third straight month in November, with cargo handling logging a “shocking” decline because of weakening global trade, the International Air Transport Association said.

Passenger traffic, or kilometers flown multiplied by the number of travelers, slumped 4.6 percent from a year earlier, IATA said today in a statement on its Web site. That compares with a 1.3 percent decline in October and a 2.9 percent drop in September. Freight traffic plunged almost 14 percent, the sixth straight monthly decrease.

The decline in air travel outstripped a 1 percent reduction in capacity and is likely to lead to airlines logging losses in the fourth quarter, according to Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s chief executive officer. Japan’s sales abroad plunged the most on record in November, while Germany’s exports in October fell 0.5 percent and those of the U.S. fell 2.2 percent.

“The industry is now shrinking by all measures,” Bisignani said in the statement. The decline in freight transport “clearly shows the rapid fall in global trade and the broadening impact of the economic slowdown.”

Asia-Pacific freight traffic fell 17 percent, the largest decline of any region, the association said. China’s exports decreased for the first time in seven years in November while imports plunged, China’s customs bureau reported Dec. 10.

Geneva- and Montreal-based IATA estimates that more than one-third of the value of goods traded internationally is transported by air.