UPDATE 1-Airlines climbing out of recession – IATA

* Airline recovery gathers strength in February

* Record passenger capacity usage for February

(Recasts with details, background, further quote)

By Jonathan Lynn

GENEVA, March 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Airlines are climbing out of
recession with further strong increases for passenger travel and
freight in February, industry association IATA said on Tuesday.

One sign of recovery was record capacity usage for passenger
travel in February, traditionally the weakest month for air
travel, the International Air Transport Association said.

“We are moving in the right direction. In two to three
months, the industry should be back to pre-recession traffic
levels,” said IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani.

Passenger demand in February was 9.5 percent higher than a
year earlier, but supply increased by only 1.9 percent.

The result was a passenger load factor — a measure of how
full planes fly — of 75.5 percent, or a February record in
seasonally adjusted terms of 79.3 percent, IATA said.

Cargo demand grew 26.5 percent, said IATA, which estimates
that 30 percent of world trade by value is moved by air freight,
making its data an important indicator of global commerce flows
and overall economic activity.

IATA said February 2009 had marked the bottom of the cycle
for passenger traffic during the recession, and passenger demand
would need to recover by a further 1.4 percent to return to
pre-crisis levels.

Cargo traffic, which plunged much further than passenger
business, as demand for goods plummeted in the crisis, must rise
a further 3 percent to regain pre-crisis levels after hitting a
low in December 2008, IATA said.

“This is still not a full recovery. The task ahead is to
adjust to two years of lost growth,” Bisignani said in a
statement.

IATA, which groups about 230 airlines, including Air China
(601111.SS: ), Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: ), British Airways (BAY.L: ),
Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI: ) and Skywest (SKYW.O: ), forecast
earlier this month that airlines would lose $2.8 billion this
year after losing $9.4 billion in 2009. [ID:nLDE62A0OH]

As usual, regional demand patterns varied, with European and
North American carriers showing the weakest growth in February,
while Asia-Pacific carriers saw strong increases.

Middle East airlines recorded passenger demand growth of
25.8 percent, the strongest of any region as travel markets
develop in the area and local carriers compete on long-haul
connections to Asia via Middle Eastern hubs, it said.

Latin American carriers saw a 41.9 percent increase in cargo
demand.
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(For IATA statement go to http://link.reuters.com/xup75j )
(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn, editing by Will Waterman)

UPDATE 1-Airlines climbing out of recession – IATA