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ACI concerned about impact of Swine Influenza

March passenger and freight traffic remains depressed

Global airport traffic in March and for the first quarter of 2009 remains starkly lower than in 2008, with international traffic falling by 11 percent for the month and by 10 percent for the first quarter. The decline has slowed, however, in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions, and March domestic traffic across all regions showed signs of a softening contraction, down 6 percent against 7.5 percent for the first quarter.  For total worldwide traffic in March, airport reports show 8 percent fewer passengers than…

Global airport traffic in March and for the first quarter of 2009 remains starkly lower than in 2008, with international traffic falling by 11 percent for the month and by 10 percent for the first quarter. The decline has slowed, however, in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions, and March domestic traffic across all regions showed signs of a softening contraction, down 6 percent against 7.5 percent for the first quarter.  For total worldwide traffic in March, airport reports show 8 percent fewer passengers than March 2008, and the worldwide average for the first quarter 2009 is also down by just over 8 percent.

Traffic data for freight traffic points to December 2008/ January 2009 as its lowest ebb point. Although the results remain very low, the declines have further softened in March.  Total freight was down by 18 percent for the month and 20 percent for the first quarter; international traffic fell by 22.5 percent against 24.5 percent for the quarterly results.  Recovery from this catastrophic slump is expected to take quite some time, but freight trends are mildly pointing up with better March results compared to Q1 results across all regions. The improvement is lead by the Middle East which has registered positive growth for the first time since November 2008.

There are equally signs that the passenger traffic decline has reached the bottom of the downward trend. Data indicates that domestic travel, as well as international traffic in Asia Pacific, could lead the beginnings of an upturn. Further declines in international traffic in the rest of the world are the result of a distortion due to the fact that Easter holidays were in March last year and in April this year.

These results and analysis for March and first quarter 2009 do not yet take into account the impact of the outbreak of swine influenza now witnessed in a limited number of nations.  At the time of this release, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not issued any travel advisories nor recommended border closings.  ACI and its members will continue to monitor this situation closely and comply with any new directives from the WHO and national health authorities.

ACI Director of Health, Security and Facilitation, Craig Bradbrook, comments, “While the swine influenza outbreak comes at a difficult time, we remain confident that the industry will pull through this crisis, as it has in the past.  Indeed, as the Director General WHO has said, the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic that at any time in history.  ACI, ICAO, IATA and WHO responded to the previous SARS and Avian Flu outbreaks by developing comprehensive contingency procedures for airports and airlines.  We are seeing those being implemented in line with the WHO’s global response plan.  ACI is in regular communication with WHO and other industry stakeholders and will continue to provide information and assistance to airports.”

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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