IATA Shows Return to Monthly Growth in Premium Travel

International Air Transport Association (IATA) global traffic data released yesterday registered in December 2009 the first monthly year-over-year increase in the number of premium passengers since May 2008.

In December, 1.7 percent more passengers flew in first or business class than in the same month in 2008. "2009 was a year of very distinct halves, with severe recession early in the year and post-recession upturn in the second half," IATA said, noting that the low point for premium travel came in May 2009, when high-yield traffic was down 25 percent over the same month in 2008.

Since that low, premium passenger numbers grew 11 percent through December. Even with its first positive year-over-year posting in the last month of 2009, however, the overall size of the premium market remained down 17 percent compared with the size of the market in early 2008.

"This implies that premium travel has lost six years of growth," IATA concluded.

—Nielsen Business Media