IATA ECONOMICS BRIEFING AIRLINE BUSINESS CONFIDENCE INDEX OCTOBER 2010 SURVEY

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1 IATA ECONOMICS BRIEFING AIRLINE BUSINESS CONFIDENCE INDEX OCTOBER SURVEY KEY POINTS Results from IATA s quarterly survey conducted in October show business conditions continued to improve during the third quarter. However, while confidence going forward remains generally high, some concerns about 11 are evident. Over 77% of respondents reported improved profitability during the last quarter on the back of strong revenues and cost control. The outlook for the 12 months ahead remains positive, although the prospect of only modest economic growth next year is dampening the mood somewhat. In September IATA revised up its forecast for industry profits to US$8.9 billion but issued a more subdued US$5.3 billion outlook for 11. Both cargo and passenger demand continued to improve during the third quarter of this year. Increases in passenger demand were reported by % of respondents and, on the cargo side of the business, more than three-quarters reported increases. Expectations for further improvements in demand over the 12 months ahead are still high but look to be moderating rather than accelerating given the economic outlook and that the restocking activity which stimulated freight traffic has drawn to a close. Yields are reported to have increased by the majority of respondents in Q3 driven by increased demand, improving premium/economy mix and relatively tight demand-supply conditions. The outlook for further yield improvement has dipped back, although still remains positive. Capacity is returning to markets at an accelerating pace and, combined with moderating demand growth, could see yield growth flatten out. Factors such as increasing aircraft utilization have offset the higher fuel prices faced by some and helped to keep unit costs relatively stable. Respondents, on balance, see this stability continuing over the 12 months ahead. Industry employment stayed fairly steady in Q3. Some airlines are hiring in response to expanding operating but many continue to restructure and seek productivity improvements before taking on new staff. The outlook for the next 12 months is for expansion in employment, although seeking further productivity gains will remain a high priority for airlines. PROFITABILITY OUTLOOK How has profitability changed? How do you expect it to change over the next twelve months? a) October survey b) Compared to previous surveys % 8 % % 8.6% Deterioration / Decrease 31.4% 14.3% No-change 77.1%. Improvement / Increase ( = No Change) Mar 6 Sep 6 Oct 9 1

2 October Survey At the end of the third quarter of airlines remained confident about prospects for profitability. Over twothirds of respondents reported improved profitability during the quarter. A still high 6 expect further improvement over the 12 months ahead. Continued recovery in air transport markets combined with stronger yield performance has helped the revenue environment for airlines. Improving aircraft utilization and moderate, rather than dramatic, increases in fuel prices have helped to contain costs. Profitability has improved as a result. On a weighted average basis (with representing no-change, and values above signaling a greater balance of positive views), the score for profitability over the previous three months is 84.3 a new high. While Q3 is typically a quarter of strong seasonal profitability for airlines, it appears that the improvement in the underlying drivers of profitability seen in the first half of this year has continued during the most recent quarter. The majority of respondents in each region report improvements in profitability. While respondents from the Asia Pacific are unanimous in reporting improvement, a smaller 6 from Europe report the same reflecting a still relatively weaker economic climate. Confidence about further improvements in profitability over the 12 months ahead has dipped slightly from last survey but remains high. The weighted average measure of expectations for profits has fluctuated between over the last four quarters. This indicates a high level of confidence in profitability going forward. Underpinning this confidence is the view that air transport markets will continue to grow and that upward cost pressures will be contained. Having said that, a number of respondents report concerns over the possibility of seeing weaker economic growth going into 11. This could dampen traffic and yield growth somewhat and could stymie further improvements in profitability. Thus, while overall confidence remains high, almost a third of respondents now indicate that the see no-change in profitability over the 12 months ahead. IATA s September forecast for industry profitability points to 11 profits being slightly lower than those expected for. DEMAND GROWTH The bulk of respondents reported improved traffic volumes on both the passenger and cargo sides of the business during the last quarter. Respondents report significant market demand in some cases much greater than had been expected which is driving volume recovery and further growth. However the proportion reporting improvement fell for the first time since the July 9 survey. Now % of respondents report passenger volume improvement during the last quarter, compared to 84% last survey. International revenue passenger kilometer data for July and August this year shows growth of about 7% on an annualized basis, down from 1 in the first quarter. It looks as though passenger markets are entering a phase of slower growth after the initial post-recession rebound. The outlook for passenger traffic over the 12 months ahead remains positive with 68% expecting increases over that period on the back of continued demand growth and capacity expansion. However with a weighted average score of 76.3, this indicator looks to be plotting a course back towards the no-change line, which would indicate a moderation of growth on passenger markets but not a renewed decline. Recent and expected change in traffic volumes % 8 % % % % Deterioration / Decrease No-change Improvement / Increase % 8 % % 62.5% 21.9% 15.6% 15.2% 9.1% Deterioration / Decrease No-change Improvement / Increase 2

3 October Survey Three quarters of respondents reported stronger cargo traffic in the last quarter although, as is the case on the passenger side of the business, this is a smaller proportion than seen in the last survey where 83% reported improvement. Air freight volumes bounced back very quickly as world trade recovered post-recession. Inventory restocking activity also stimulated freight traffic. Freight tonne kilometer data for July and August showed annualized growth of around 12%. This was slower than the 25% seen in the first quarter of this year. The proportion of respondents expecting further improvement in air freight volumes over the 12 months ahead has also fallen from 74% last survey to 62%. There is also now a small minority of respondents who see volume decreases ahead. With inventories now restocked, freight traffic growth is likely to moderate back towards the single digit world trade growth rates. The fall in the weighted average outlook for cargo as seen in the chart below may be reflecting that trend. Nevertheless, at a weighted average level of 73.4, confidence in the outlook for freight volumes is still relatively positive, indicating that the industry is facing a shift to a slower phase of growth over the year ahead rather than any absolute decline. Compared to previous surveys Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul INPUT COSTS Input unit costs appear, on balance, to have remained fairly steady in Q3 and the outlook for the 12 months ahead is similar. Roughly equal proportions of respondents reported input cost increases or decreases in the third quarter meaning a weighted average score just below the no-change line. Increased aircraft utilization reduced unit costs for many, however rising fuel prices have meant others experienced upward cost pressures. Cost control remains a major focus for many airlines. New aircraft entering the fleet are helping to reduce operational unit costs and airlines are continuing to seek labor productivity improvements. How have your unit input costs changed? How do you expect them to change over the next twelve months? a) October survey b) Compared to previous surveys %. 37.1% 28.6% 28.6% 22.9% ( = No Change) Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul 3

4 October Survey The proportion of respondents expecting no-change in input unit costs over the 12 months ahead has risen to almost 43% this survey compared to just under 31% in July. The weighted average score for expectations going forward sits right on the mark indicating stability. The prospect of increased fuel cost remains the major concern, although the fairly modest global economic growth outlook may help reduce the likelihood of major demand-driven price rises. Expected further aircraft utilization increases will help to keep unit costs in check. YIELD ENVIRONMENT Around sixty percent of respondents reported passenger yield increases in Q3 and a similar proportion reported increases in cargo rates. Relatively tight demand-supply conditions have kept passenger load factors high and yields have improved. An improving share of business class traffic also continues to support higher average yields. Overall, on weighted average basis, the score for yield performance over the last quarter was 71.1, which is approaching levels seen before the recession. Rising yields and strong demand have significantly strengthened the revenue environment for airlines. Cost containment combined with stronger revenues has driven improved profitability in. However, respondents have become less optimistic about further yield improvements over the 12 months ahead. The proportion expecting further increases has fallen from nearly three-quarters last survey to just over a quarter this survey and the majority now expect no-change. This indicator on expectations for yield development has been volatile in the past, so there may be a bounce back in subsequent surveys. Nevertheless, competition is increasing on key routes as capacity is reintroduced and this is occurring at a time when demand growth looks to be softening somewhat. This may well be a recipe for moderation in yield growth over the year ahead. On a weighted average basis, the score for the outlook in yields is 55.3 still positive but more inline with a flattening of yield growth next year. Recent and expected change in yields % 8 % % 57.9% 26.3% 26.3% 15.8% 15.8% % 8 % %. 37.5% 29.4% 12.5% 8.8% Compared to previous surveys - Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul 4

5 October Survey A small increased in the proportion of respondents reporting that cargo yields increased during the last three months helped the weighted average score to 76.5 a new high. Freight load factors are still relatively high due to strong demand combined with capacity scarcity on several trade lanes. This dynamic has driven rises in cargo yields this year. Expectations for cargo yield improvement over the 12 months ahead still remain positive, although they appear to be moderating somewhat. With inventory restocking now largely complete, freight growth is likely to moderate back towards the rate of world trade growth. Freight capacity is also coming back into the market and these factors could temper further rises in yields. Half of all respondents expect no-change in yields over the year ahead and the weighed average score sits at IATA s own forecast is for flat yield growth in the cargo and passenger sides of the business during 11. EMPLOYMENT While about a quarter of respondents reported expanding employment during the last quarter largely related to expansion of operations the balance of responses points to a pause in any large scale hiring activity. The weighted average balance of responses dipped slightly below the no-change mark to sit at 44.3 for the last quarter and indicates stability or a slight decline in employment. Airlines are still restructuring their networks and operations. Further productivity gains are being sought before new hiring and in some cases activities are being outsourced. Europe stands out as a region where industry employment has yet so show signs of recovery. More than half of survey respondents from Europe still reported declining employment in Q3 of this year. The outlook over the next 12 months is, on balance, for increases in employment levels. The weighed average score of 58.6 is down on last survey but still in positive territory indicating expansion. Drivers of this outlook remain the continued recovery of traffic and the return to market expansion through the establishment of new services. However seeking ways to increase productivity of existing staff and controlling related costs will continue to be high priorities for airlines over the 12 months ahead. How has your employment level changed? How do you expect it to change over the next twelve months? a) April survey b) Compared to previous surveys 8 % % 37.1% 37.1% 31.4% 25.7% 25.7% ( = No Change) Mar 6 Jun 6 Sep 6 Jan 7 Jul 7 Jan 8 Jul 8 Jan 9 Jul 9 Oct 9 Jan Jul IATA Economics October FURTHER ANALYSIS AND DATA Access video commentary and chart data related to this briefing through the Enhanced Edition: 5

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