IATA Reports Air Passenger Demand Slowdown in August

Discussion in 'Travel' started by Fisher1949, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    From a few weeks ago. While the load factors may be holding, they neglect to mention that the number of flights has declined. American Airlines is feeling the effects of holding gates and landing slots and absorbing those costs while going without revenue from them because the actual flight has be eliminated.

    “Airlines are bracing for tough times ahead,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “The industry has shifted gears downward. The pace of growth in passenger markets has dipped.” Tyler added that there is not a lot of optimism for improved conditions any time soon.

    Lisa Simeone and AngryMiller like this.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Do they need a clue as to why this might be?
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  3. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Fisher1949 points out correctly that while load factors are holding steady, there are fewer flights. I plan to start analyzing the monthly and quarterly airline reports for our audience here for discussion ala the one that started in the BOS BDO thread (discussion begins on page 5).

    The key piece you want to read in the individual airline data releases is "enplanements". An enplanement is essentially a person who "enplaned", or in plain English, an individual passenger who boarded an individual flight. In almost all cases in July and August, they maintained in their own analysis that load factors were flat or slightly improved. What they failed to mention was that actual passenger traffic was down. You have to really dig into the numbers to find that datum.

    There's been some buzz lately that a recent fare hike will stick, and that it's likely because "demand is up, so the airlines have better pricing power." Wrong answer. Fares must increase because there are fewer people to absorb the lower average fares. Demand is artificially up because supply is lower than it was a year ago, as Fisher1949 points out above.
  4. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    Exactly right, barbell. I forget who it was that said, "There are 3 kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics." Ant that applies in this scenario.
  5. RB

    RB Founding Member

    I asked a while back, is there any way to find out if any airline is parking planes somewhere. I know the Arizona desert has a few places but I don't know any way to see if the parking lot got fuller. As mentioned up thread or elsewhere (don't remember) I saw a news item about AA reducing capacity by 3% this fall/winter. That probably is just 3 or 4 aircraft and may represent some of MD-80's that are being replaced. However if AA was lacking capacity I bet they would wait until replacement aircraft had been made flight ready.
  6. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Enplanements are pretty conspicuous in the monthly DOT stats. No excavation needed.
  7. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Do a map search for Pinal Airpark in Marana, AZ - that's where many of the airlines store their planes. The picture I found on Bing maps would appear to be from last year. I don't know how to find more current pictures, but I'm certain there are some here who can do that.
  8. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    I've seen that at MSP where Delta has taken out some of the check in points. Also remember that spring break and some of the other formerly heavy travel days aren't as heavily traveled. Granted that is anecdotal evidence but the airports don't seem to have as many people in them.
  9. Doober

    Doober Original Member

  10. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    For the United States, the definitive data is here: Air Travel Consumer Report

    The reports have been issued monthly since 1998 and report critical metrics (including enplanements) by airline & by major airports.
  11. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Total U.S. passenger enplanements in Aug 2011 were 50.8M compared to 50.5M for Aug 2010, an increase of only 0.5%.

    More interesting is that Southwest has grown to where it is enplaning 1M more passengers per month than Delta, and that's without adding in Airtrans' 2.3M passenger enplanements.

    Among the legacy carriers, UA is showing a ~10% decrease from Aug 2010, US, AA, DL are showing slight decreases, and CO is showing a slight increase.
  12. jackonferry

    jackonferry Original Member

    I've cut my flying a lot this year, all because of TSA. One thing I do is take the infernal United surveys. I endure the long form of the survey just so I can report that TSA is limiting my flying. I also talk to the United lobby service directors at LAX and IAD. I doubt either does any good, but, if nothing else, it is a relief valve for me.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  13. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    There is a deliberate government effort going on (since the mid 80's and now accelerating due to economic conditions) to overstate current economic postives and understate the most troubling economic stats (see John William's http://www.shadowstats.com/ for details on how this data and headline numbers are massaged to help spin current economic developments). So no shock that airlines are doing their bit too.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  14. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    An excellent point, and I am struck by the recent barrage of articles warning people to buy their Thanksgiving tickets now or risk not being able to fly. It's a false protestation of increased demand. Frankly, people will fly if they want to fly, and pay the fare they believe is fair that they can afford. We know this fact intrinsically as we set fares and capacity within the airline planning world.

    It smacks to me of the lady doth protest too much. If planes are soooooooooooooo full, then why are we being told to hurry up and buy? Bollocks.

    I have very briefly surveyed flight booking data for Thanksgiving weekend on some of the more heavily traveled routes for that weekend. Keep in mind that these travelers are "leisure" travelers and therefore the vast majority would have already booked their trips. These flights are sold at considerably less than 30%, when at this point in the game they should be closer to 60% or more sold. These flights are not booking.

    As they say, follow the money. Bookings are down, so they're trying to artificially create demand in these news stories. It'll be interesting to compare the YOY DOT stats for this period when they come out. As a side note I compared forecast booking over Thanksgiving to completed flights yesterday on the same routes. I was surprised to see that these same flights are currently going out virtually empty. Just one highly trafficked route, on a Friday, flew at 80% capacity for the entire day, on reduced capacity. This route is one that will fly at near-100% capacity year-round previously. Regardless of the reason, people aren't flying.
    Lisa Simeone and nachtnebel like this.
  15. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I will add that I attempted to book similar routes on Amtrak over Thanksgiving weekend. To be fair, given that I can only see Amtrak booking data by what I can book online, it seems that Amtrak is quickly selling out some routes over this same period. On some routes rooms are listed as "sold out" already. That's telling.
  16. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    I've seen those same articles and wondered the very same thing.

    I should go post this in the thread I started about my train trip. The train was filled. A couple who sat across from me at dinner told me that they had to get one of the more expensive bedrooms because all of the roomettes were taken. They had no desire to fly. I probed them a little (without giving any indication about my feelings about the TSA) and they said they just didn't want to deal with airport security.

    One person said they stopped flying because of health reasons, but everyone else I talked to said it was the TSA that made them limit their air travel. It certainly wasn't an economic reason because the train isn't cheap, especially once you've decided not to sit in coach. And I didn't see any empty rooms or roomettes on the train that I was on.

    I'll be very curious to see what happens Thanksgiving week.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  17. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    So you think Desdemona may have one or two songs left, but the hall is starting to empty.....

    The more air traffic declines, the greater the impact of those passenger abandoning air travel because of TSA. That is a factor, the airlines are tracking it, and when times are desperate, they will turn on the TSA with a vengeance. That knife sticking out of Pistole's back won't be a Halloween prop....
  18. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Mark Twain.
  19. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    Well, there's more than just TSA at play here.

    Imagine you fly. Especially just a few times a year, if even that much.

    The employees of the airline are somewhat surly. Heck, some of them may not even speak English very well.

    Then you show up to the airport. Lines are long and slow. You have to pay more money to check your bag. Lines for the security show are longer and even slower. You put your shoes on the belt instead of a bin, or you have *gasp* full-sized bottles of liquid, or any other number of ridiculous sins and get yelled at by some overweight prison matron who clearly hasn't washed her hair in 2 weeks.

    Then any other number of "unpredictable" "layers" are inflicted on you as you exit the security theatre.

    Then you have to run to your gate because the security show took a really, really long time. This is, of course, your fault for not planning better. True security should take at least 90 minutes to complete.

    The plane is packed, the seats are small, the person next to you is spilling into your seat. The flight is delayed, the flight attendant is not quite pleasant, you miss your connection, the baggage carousel doesn't have your bag, on and on and on...

    Now of course these are extremes, but what we observed when I worked in the call center was that either everything went smoothly and there was no complaint or every.single.possible thing that could go wrong did. IOW for some people during air travel when it rains it pours.

    So really, who in their right mind would pay $300-$700 to put up with all that crap? I've mentioned before that I pay nothing and am now renting cars and driving to avoid flying. Imagine people who don't have that luxury...
    nachtnebel likes this.
  20. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    To add to my earlier point that there were articles about 2 weeks ago along the lines of "Planes are selling out! Hurry! Buy your tickets now!"

    Well, I'll just say I told you so -->

    Expect Fewer Flyers but Crowded Planes - Thanksgiving Forecast is Down

    Lisa Simeone likes this.

Share This Page