Superstorm Sandy, which hit parts of Northeastern US and the Caribbean, has given a blow to the already softening passenger traffic growth in October, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Due to the affect of Sandy, global passenger traffic during October 2012 grew just 2.8% over the same month last year, while in comparison to September the traffic declined 0.5%.
IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler said that slowing world trade and weak business confidence are affecting demand for air travel, while Hurricane Sandy delivered a concentrated punch to US domestic and North Atlantic travel.
"And its impact was felt globally," Tyler said. "Airlines are managing the softer passenger demand environment by limiting capacity growth to keep load factors high.
"But the rapid decline in freight traffic is outrunning the industry’s ability to respond."
During the month, global passenger capacity rose 2.3% and load factor increased to 78.8%, while the freight load factor declined to 46.1% over 46.7% reported in October 2011.
International passenger traffic during the month increased 3.2%, however it narrowed 0.2% over September and international capacity reported a 2.2% rise, while load factor stood at 78.3%.
The Middle East region reported the highest rise with a 12.4% increase in international passenger traffic during October, while the region recorded a capacity growth of 12.1% taking the load factor to 75%.
Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa reported respective rises of 2.6%, 0.2%, 1.4%, 6.8% and 2.8% during October 2012 when compared the same month last year.
"The human toll and physical destruction of Hurricane Sandy remain foremost in our minds. It also dealt the airline industry a $0.5 billion blow at a time when it can least afford it," Tyler said.
"At the same time, the disruption of thousands of flights demonstrated just how connected the aviation industry has made the world.
"A smooth functioning aviation industry is a critical component of modern life that is often taken for granted."
October domestic passenger traffic increased in Brazil and China, while declined in the US, India and Japan when compared to the same month in 2011.
Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and Africa reported 6.8%, 5.3%, 4.3% and 0.5% declines in domestic and international air freight demand respectively during the period, while air freight demand rose in Middle East and Latin America to 13.4% and 0.9% respectively.