But 6% year on year decline
The fall in passenger traffic at European carriers is easing, according to the latest figures from the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
It said traffic in April fell among its 32 member by 2.4% compared with the same month in 2008, against a 9.1% drop in March and a 5.5% fall in February.
But the AEA said weekly figures for the last four weeks of May and the first week of June were "relentlessly poor", with May likely to produce a decrease in the order of 9%.
Ulrich Schulte-Strata's, the Association's secretary general, said: "The four months reported so far are pieces of a jigsaw which, put together, reveal a 6% drop in traffic compared to the first four months of last year.
"But our three major markets - Europe, the North Atlantic and the Far East - all face far steeper traffic declines than the average".
He warned: "The next piece in the jigsaw will reveal an even worse scenario."
Mr Schulte-Strata's said the EC decision to suspend its "use-it-or-lose-it" rule on slots at European airlines was having a positive effect.
It was enabling airlines to "adjust their capacity in response to market conditions without the risk of jeopardising the long-term integrity of their product."
But he added: "However, the summer slot waiver will expire long before the business picks up; the winter programme is being fine-tuned now, and now is the time that the airlines need reassurance that they can continue to tailor production to demand - an extension of the slot waiver for an extra timetable season is essential."