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IATA sees slower air travel demand growth in 2013

GENEVA -- Global air travel demand growth will slow again this year, but freight markets will recover from a decline in 2012, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday.

"2013 will not be a banner year for profitability, but we should see some improvement on 2012," IATA Chief Executive Tony Tyler said in a statement.

Global passenger traffic grew 5.3 percent in 2012, IATA said, with domestic demand up 4.0 percent and international demand up 6.0 percent. This year it is expected to grow by 4.5 percent overall.

Although fuel costs remain high, airlines tightened up on spare capacity and spare seats in 2012 to protect their profits, IATA said. The year ended with markets improving, with international freight and passenger traffic 0.6 percent up from November.

Domestic passenger traffic grew by the same margin, but domestic freight deliveries rose 2.2 percent on the month.

For the year as a whole, global cargo demand contracted by 1.5 percent, including a 1.9 percent decline in international markets and 1.4 percent growth on domestic routes.

"A sharp slowdown in world trade growth and shifts in commodity mix favoring sea transport placed further downward pressure on air freight demand in 2012," IATA said.

IATA's members include major airlines such as Air France KLM , British Airways , Delta and Air China.