Global airlines’ body IATA has opposed the restrictions on air travel imposed on Qatar by some Middle Eastern nations, who have cut off diplomatic ties with Doha, saying air connectivity needs to be restored immediately. “We are not in favour of the ban. We would like connectivity to be restored as soon as possible,” International Air Transport Association (IATA) CEO and Director General Alexandre de Juniac said in response to questions.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have severed diplomatic ties and cut off transport links with Qatar. A large number of Indians, who travel to the US or Europe via Doha, would be impacted as the air travel links to Qatar, including overflights, have been severed by these nations.
Releasing the latest data on air traffic, de Juniac and other IATA officials said while the growth in air traffic demand from the Asia-Pacific region including India has been consistent in the past few weeks, its rate has been affected by the US-imposed ban on electronic devices from destinations in the Middle East to North America.On the impact of the ban on personal electronic devices (PED) announced by the US on March 21, the route-level data from March showed that revenue passengers per kilometres flown by the Middle East airlines to the US fell in year-on-year terms by 2.8 per cent for the month.
“This was the first annual decline recorded for this market in at least seven years. While traffic growth on the market segment already was slowing, the decline is consistent with some disruption from the PED ban, as well as a wider impact on inbound travel to the US from the Trump administration’s proposed travel bans,” the officials said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is holding its annual meet and the World Air Transport Summit here, has come out with data showing India’s domestic traffic revenue growing at a rate of 15.3 per cent per kilometre with a passenger load factor of over 85 per cent.
On the international front, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes India, has seen the traffic increasing by 10.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period, that is a 14-month high. “Traffic on Asia-Europe routes continues to recover from the terrorism-related slowdowns last year. Capacity rose 7.6 per cent and load factor jumped 2.4 percentage points to 80.3,” IATA officials said.
Overall, the IATA’s global passenger traffic data for April showed that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose by 10.7 per cent compared to April 2016, which was the fastest pace in six years. April capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 7.1 per cent globally and load factor climbed 2.7 percentage points to 82 per cent, which is a record for the month of April, the data showed.