Iata expects ‘strong’ travel demand to continue into summer

The International Air Transport Association has reported that the strong travel demand seen in March looks set to continue into the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere.

But its director-general Willie Walsh warned that airlines are unhappy about having to bear the costs of disruption caused by others in the sector.

His comments came as Iata figures for March passenger traffic showed that total demand – measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) – was up 13.8% compared to March 2023.

Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASK), was up 12.3% year on year and the March load factor was 82%, up by one percentage point on March 2023.

Walsh said: “Demand for travel is strong. And there is every indication that this should continue into the peak northern summer travel season.

“It is critical that we have the capacity to meet this demand and ensure a hassle-free travel experience for passengers.

“That means making urgent progress to resolve supply chain issues and for airports and air traffic management to be fully staffed and operating at maximum efficiency.

“While airlines are prepared for customer care and assistance when operational issues arise, they are fed up with bearing the cost when delays and cancellations are the result of poor preparation in other parts of the value chain.”

European carriers saw an 11.6% year on year increase in demand, while capacity rose 11.4%.

• Iata also criticised an increase in German aviation taxes, warning it will “weaken the German economy and damage aviation’s ability to decarbonise”.

On May 1, German taxes on flying increased by 19% to between €15.53 and €70.83 per passenger, depending on the route.

Walsh said: “When Germany’s economic performance is anaemic at best, denting its competitiveness with more taxes on aviation is policy madness.

“The government should be prioritising measures to improve Germany’s competitive position and encouraging trade and travel. Instead, they have gone for a short-term cash-grab which can only damage the economy’s long-term growth.”

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