IATA Says Air Passenger Traffic Up 8.2% in 2010

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said worldwide airline passenger traffic increased 8.2% last year, following the biggest demand decline in the history of aviation in 2009.

In a statement, IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani declares that "the world is moving again."

He says the increases put the airlines slightly ahead of 2008 volumes.

The average passenger load factor for the year was 78.4%, up 2.7 percentage points.

Severe weather in Europe and North America in December put a dent in the industry's recovery, however, shaving an estimated 1% off traffic volume for the month.

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Traffic on North American carriers increased 7.4% in 2010, and passenger load factor averaged a snug 82.2%, up from 79.6% the previous year.

The biggest traffic increase was in the Middle East, at 17.8%.

Capacity growth in the region was 13.2%, well ahead of the worldwide average of 4.4%.

Bisignani says the airline industry's recovery could be shipwrecked if oil prices continue to rise.

"With uncertainties in the Middle East, oil prices are now hovering near the $100 per barrel mark," he says.

"For every dollar increase in the average price of a barrel of oil over the year, airlines face the difficult task of recovering an additional $1.6 billion in costs."

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