July Premium Traffic Shows Gains

Last Updated Sep 21, 2009 10:41 AM EDT

It's time for the ever-depressing monthly IATA report known as the premium traffic monitor. And you know what? It was much better in July.

July's premium traffic was down only 14.1 percent. That compares very favorably with June's 21.3 percent drop. You'll remember that I said June's drop was encouraging, so July must make me giddy, right? Well, I don't know if I'd go that far.

Before we dig in, I need to give my usual word of caution. Premium traffic and fares are still awful. Fares were down about 23 percent for a total revenue drop year-over-year of around 35 to 40 percent. This is brutal. But the decline is slowing, so we'll call that "good" news.

This lesser decline actually means there were more premium travelers in July than in June. As the summer gets going, premium traffic usually dies, so it's good to see a bit of strength building on June. And last July was basically flat year-over-year, so we aren't seeing really skewed numbers due to the demand dropping off last year. That really didn't kick in until September, so that's when year-over-year comparisons will naturally start looking better.

Asia continues to see the largest drops. Traffic between Europe and Asia was down 14.4 percent while travel between Europe and North America was down only 10.4 percent. Travel between North America and Asia was down 17.5 percent.

So the upward (or "less downward") trend is continuing. Pretty soon, year-over-year comparisons will start looking much better as the previous year traffic numbers start to fall off a cliff.