News Column

First-class travel posts small gain

February 21, 2014

By Boonsong Kositchotethana, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Feb. 21--An improved global economic environment last year meant a small surge in passengers, mostly corporate travellers, flying in premium class on international routes.

The 2013 numbers grew by 4.2% over the previous year, driven by positive developments in the business environment in the second half of 2013, showed a traffic monitoring report issued by the International Air Transport Association.

The growth reflected rising business confidence in Europe and the US showing signs of economic improvement. Trade growth gained, particularly in Asia, as demand from advanced economies accelerated, the global aviation trade body said in its report.

But last year's growth rate was lower than in 2012, when premium traffic gained 4.8%.

Still, some key markets posted increases, such as the US and northern Europe, which contributed the most to total international premium revenues. While expansion in the two regions was still weak last year at 2.4%, it was an improvement on the measly 0.6% gain in 2012, confirming that business conditions in both Europe and the US are reviving.

But the largest share (21%) of the increase in premium travel in 2013 was attributed to the Far East market. This market expanded 7.2% last year, supported by regional trade growth in the second half of the year.

Given recent indications of easing growth in China, however, the outlook for the market has weakened, the report said.

Passengers travelling in economy class on international routes in 2013 expanded at a slower rate than premium travel, at 3.5%, a significant slowdown from 2012 when growth was 5.9%.

A key reason for the slowdown was the Far East market, where economy-class travel expanded by 4.3% in 2013, less than half the pace of growth in 2012 (9.6%).

While major economies in the region started to show improvement during 2013, growth in China was patchy throughout the year and likely slowed to rates not seen since the 1990s.

Given the size of the Chinese economy, there were knock-on effects for the region.

The outlook for premium travel markets remains broadly positive.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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