Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 17:48 UK

Economic troubles hit air traffic

Air traffic has fallen due to the economic slowdown

Airline traffic has fallen because of economic slowdown for the first time in 25 years, according to figures from the Association of European Airlines.

Overall traffic fell 1.1% in September, compared with the same month last year, while domestic traffic fell 12.4%.

Since the early 1980s, only the 11 September 2001 attacks, Sars and the Gulf Wars have caused such declines.

With European countries entering recession, traffic cannot be expected to recover quickly, the AEA said.

The association blamed the "toxic" combination of economic slowdown, declining business and consumer confidence, and fuel-driven price inflation for the fall.

Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, general secretary of the AEA, said: "In terms of response to purely economic stimuli, these figures are the weakest our industry has seen for 25 years."

Cross-border European flights fell 1.1%, while total international flights were down 0.1%.

Big falls

Alitalia, Italy's national airline that filed for bankruptcy protection in August, saw traffic fall 25%, more than any other carrier.

Spanair was down 21.1% and Icelandair was down 12.8%.

Some of Europe's biggest airlines fared slightly better. British Airways saw traffic fall by 5.1%, while Germany's Lufthansa saw its increase by 4.2%.

By far the best performing airline was the UK-based BMI, which saw traffic increase by 22.8%.

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