A continued slowdown in the rate of traffic growth was recorded by Iata airlines in September as they moved towards a ‘revolution’ in distribution.

While demand for passenger traffic was 4.1% above the same month last year, the rate was down on the 5.3% growth in August and well below the 6% average growth seen in the first half of the year

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “A ‘two-speed’ recovery is emerging into a ‘multi-speed’ reality.

“Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East are growing strongly. Europe’s airlines are experiencing profitless growth in a strategy to manage high fixed costs and taxes. In Africa the challenge is to turn growth opportunities into profits.

“But for North American airlines the focus is on tightly managing capacity in order to optimise profits in a slow to no-growth environment.

“Asia-Pacific carriers outside of China are a mixed bag. Robust growth in China is being tempered by faltering markets in Japan and India.”

He added: “Putting regional diversity aside, the fact that airlines are making any money at all with weak markets and high fuel prices is a tribute to their strong business performance, as evidenced by maintaining global load factors close to 80% since the start of 2012.

“Even with that, airlines are expected to eke out a global net profit margin of only 0.6%. It’s a tough year.”

Tyler said: “Tough times deliver innovation. High oil prices have turned fuel management into a fine art of conserving every last drop. Consumer demand for convenience and simplified process supported the development of a whole new way to travel facilitated by e-tickets, bar-coded boarding passes and kiosk technology.”

This has led to the development of the foundation standard for Iata’s New Distribution Capability, which Tyler claimed would result in travellers are benefiting from a “revolution” in airline retailing.

“NDC will enable airlines to retail their products in a modern way and with much greater product transparency to their customers across all channels—including travel agents,” Tyler stressed.

“Now that the foundation standard is agreed, we are working with partner-experts across the travel value chain to move from theory to reality. Within the next five years, shopping for travel will take place in a much more customer-centric environment.”