The growth in business class air travel is continuing to weaken as the world economy slows, according to the latest data from IATA.
The association’s Premium Traffic Monitor for September found that the number of passengers travelling in premium cabins was up 3.8 per cent in September compared to the same month in 2011. But this figure was well down on August when there was an 8.5 per cent rise in premium seats.
IATA said the slowdown in overall global premium demand was mainly down to sluggish growth in the key transatlantic and European premium markets which recorded anaemic rises of 0.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively for the first nine months of 2012.
But there was better news for flights to “emerging economies” with strong premium growth on Europe-Far East (up 6.1 per cent for the first nine months of 2012) and Africa-Middle East routes (up 19.8 per cent over the same period).
“The growth in air travel has moderated in line with the state of the business environment,” said the report. “Business travel drivers remain subdued, with world trade growth slowing to a halt compared to a year ago and business confidence remaining weak.
“The weakness in business confidence and the slowdown of world trade growth have kept air travel demand from expanding at the solid rates seen during earlier periods.”
IATA added that the outlook for the next few months was “not promising for world trade growth” due to declining export orders which would have a knock-on effect on demand for premium air travel.
“The measure of overall business confidence did improve modestly in the last two months, but it is still indicating a contraction in manufacturing activity, now for five consecutive months,” said the report. “Consequently, we expect the pace of growth in air travel, particularly in premium markets, to remain modest over the coming months.”