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Air travel markets record month of solid growth

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Air travel markets recorded another month of solid growth in March, with passenger demand increasing 7.6% compared to a year ago.

• Air freight markets are now showing signs of improvement, with a rise of more than 4% since the fourth quarter – though the size of the market is almost unchanged compared to the same month last year;
• Air travel year-on-year growth rates are being distorted upwards by events that occurred a year ago which significantly reduced air transport demand – the Arab Spring and the earthquake in Japan;
• We estimate that air travel worldwide was about 2% points higher this March than it would have been in the absence of these events;
• In other words, air travel would have otherwise grown about 5.5% in March compared to a year ago – a solid result indicating steady improvement in travel, supported by the recent rise in business confidence and therefore business travel;
• The underlying trend in air cargo was positive in March, consistent with the improvements in business and consumer confidence seen over the last several months;
• However, the extent of the improvement is uncertain so far since some of this growth could be a result of the volatility inherent in the monthly growth rates, which on average can be +/- 2%;
• Passenger load factors are being maintained at solid levels, and in March approached pre-recession highs in international passenger markets;
• On the cargo side, the trend has been improving with load factors showing improvement over the last 6 months

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