World airlines should prepare for a traffic slowdown in 2008 as January traffic data have shown such signs, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.
International passenger demand grew by 4.3 percent in January, which is sharply down from the 6.7 percent growth recorded in December and the 7.4 percent recorded for the full-year of 2007, according to figures released by the Geneva-based organization.
Growth in international air cargo traffic also slowed slightly to 4.5 percent in January from 4.7 percent recorded in December, IATA said.
"January traffic results show that we could be at a turning point," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO, in a statement.
"A month's data is not enough to define a trend, however, the sharp shift in demand growth patterns makes it clear that the U.S. credit crunch is negatively impacting air travel," he said.
According to IATA data, European passenger traffic grew only 0.3 percent in January -- marking the largest fall after growth of 5.5 percent in December.
North American passenger carriers saw 5 percent growth in international traffic compared with 6 percent growth in December.
Asia-Pacific carriers saw a small drop in demand growth to 5.7 percent in January compared with 6.2 percent in December.
"Despite the weak Japanese economy, carriers in the region benefited from increased competitiveness due to the strong euro and the booming economies of both India and China," IATA said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)