AS A precursor to the upcoming IATA Annual General Meeting in Singapore from June 5 to 7, IATA director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, revealed strong April 2011 air traffic data at his pre-AGM briefing this morning.
According to Bisignani, international passenger traffic grew 16.5 per cent during this period. He cautioned, however, that this spike was exaggerated by comparison of this year’s data against that of the year before, when much of Europe’s airspace closed as a result of volcanic ash from Iceland.
Bisignani added that air passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region declined 0.6 per cent as an immediate consequence of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
During his briefing, Bisignani underscored the importance of watching growth in GDP as a key driver of air traffic growth. He noted that Asia’s GDP was expected to grow at a healthy six per cent this year, but cautioned that high oil prices – already breaching the US$110 per barrel level – “could spoil the situation”.
Meanwhile, Bisignani sees India’s air traffic growing quickly, even as its national carrier, Air India, continues to experience difficulties. Although aviation infrastructure in the country is considered a hurdle for growth, Bisignani said he was “pleasantly surprised” with how the new airport in New Delhi was built and opened in record time.
The new airport has so far allowed Air India to establish its main hub there, and terminate several loss-making flights from different parts of India to Frankfurt and onwards across the Atlantic to North America.
He did, however, voice concerns over taxation issues in India, which he believes “the government needs to revise, including that which is levied on aviation fuel”.