May Premium Traffic Monitor Shows Steep Declines

Last Updated Jul 21, 2009 10:19 AM EDT

It looks like that whole "demand stabilization" thing we were hoping for isn't quite there yet. May premium traffic numbers are out via IATA, and the news is not good.

In May, passengers traveling on premium tickets dropped 23.6 percent year over year. Think about that. Nearly 1 in 4 tickets bought in premium cabins last year were not bought this year. That's a staggering number, and it shows just how dire the situation is. Some of that could have been swine flu-related, but that would have been a relatively small number.

The news is really even worse, because the number of people traveling is just half the story. Revenues on those people who did actually travel on a premium ticket dropped by 20 percent. The net result is that premium revenues are down 40 to 45 percent year over year. Ouch.

Once again, the Atlantic fared better than the Pacific. North Atlantic premium traffic dropped 16.5 percent while North and Mid Pacific traffic dropped 30.7 percent. Within North America, the number was right in the middle with a 22.7 percent decline.

The worst declines were in Central and South America, likely hurt largely by the swine flu outbreak, but even without swine flu those numbers would have been bad.