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IATA: Premium air travel falls in March; no sign of bottom yet

Profile Photo By: H L
May 19, 2009

IATA: Premium air travel falls in March; no sign of bottom yet

Premium business and first class travel fell sharply again in March, and an international airline trade group said Monday the industry hasn?t hit bottom, yet.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said passengers traveling in the front cabin declined 19.2 percent compared to March 2008. The February decline was 21.2 percent year-to-year, but adjusted for Easter holiday and leap year, IATA said ?the 2 [percentage-point] slowdown in the rate of decline in premium travel between February and March this year is rather disappointing.?

IATA said when adjusting for Easter, ?it looks as though underlying premium travel was falling at an accelerating rate of decline at around -25 [percent] this March.?

Economy traffic was off 8.2 percent year-over-year in March, and compared to an 8.3 percent fall-off in February.

Total air traffic was down 9.3 percent for March.

The hit of declining premium travel depressed airline revenues, which fell 11.1 percent in March when measured by revenues per passenger kilometer.

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