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April premium air travel down by 22 percent

On Tuesday, more evidence emerged that the recession was pushing business air travellers to the back of the plane, as an industry association reported that premium seat sales fell by 22 per cent in April.

Revenue derived from premium-class passengers fell even more sharply, reportedly down by 44 per cent, year-on-year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The number of passengers travelling in economy rose by 0.3 per cent for the month, which the association said was an improvement over the 6.9 per cent drop seen for the first quarter of this year.

Easter falling in April this year, as compared to March in 2008, probably cut into higher-priced premium-class travel, but gave a boost to leisure travel in economy class, the IATA noted. It estimated that the Easter shift accounted for around five percentage points of the April decline in premium-class travel.

Air travel is influenced by factors such as industrial production and job growth, and both areas were still in decline in most of the world’s largest economies in April – “which would suggest a floor for air travel has not yet been reached,” the IATA added.

In recent months, air travel has become significantly cheaper, with fares in economy down by15 per cent and premium-class fares over 20 per cent lower, according to IATA data. The lower fares are said to be a result of airlines trying to fill seats on their planes.

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