Business air travel rebounded in September: IATA

Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:22am EST
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GENEVA (Reuters) - Business air travel rebounded further in September, rising 12.1 percent from a year earlier, but remained below pre-recession levels, the International Air Transport Association said.

The latest figures were buoyed by premium traffic to and from Asia and the Middle East, while transatlantic markets were relatively weak, IATA said on Tuesday.

"Business travel continues to be the key to overall international travel markets, with business confidence moving higher in major economies but consumer confidence weakening," IATA said in its monthly premium traffic monitor.

September's 12.1 percent annual increase in travelers in first or business class, compared with a 6.2 percent rise in August.

Growth in premium travel continues to outstrip the increase in numbers at the back of the plane, with economy class seats rising 9.3 percent in September. However, these are now above pre-recession levels.

IATA said the rate of year-on-year increase in premium travel will slow in coming months because of sharp gains a year ago, but the extent of the slowdown in the fourth quarter now looked less than feared.

IATA has 230 members and its data on international flights are an indicator of trade and the overall state of the economy, as well as a pointer to airline profitability.

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; Editing by Dan Lalor)