Passenger travel on international markets rose 4.6% in February

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Passenger travel on international markets rose 4.6% in February compared to a year ago, up on the 3.7% result in January;
Economy class travel drove the rise in volumes in February, up 4.8% year-on-year, helped by falling fares affecting this more price sensitive market;
But the acceleration in the year-on-year comparison is also partly a result of the Lunar New Year occurring one month later in 2015 (in February). The Lunar New Year tends to give a boost to holiday-related leisure travel;
The growth trend in premium international passenger travel has flattened over the past several months. Premium international air travel volumes, as shown in the first chart below, have not increased since August 2014. There was a weak 2.3% rise in premium travel in February year-on-year;
This development reflects a lagged response to the gradual slowdown in improvements in business confidence throughout H2 2014, with economic conditions in some emerging markets deteriorating;
The within Europe travel market was particularly weak in January, up just 0.3% for premium class, and 1.6% for economy ? notably slower than the trend in 2014, which averaged close to 4% overall;
By contrast, longer-haul markets continue to perform relatively more strongly, including the Middle East to the Far East/Europe and North and Mid Pacific, which explains why international RPKs expanded at a much faster pace than passenger numbers;
Latest data show there are signs of a pick-up in business confidence in the Eurozone and US, which could help ease some of the downward pressure on business-related international air travel in coming months.

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