U.S. Travel to Europe Shows Modest Gains: 2007 Sets Record

Growth of overall transatlantic traffic decelerated in April, according to the monthly TransAtlantic Report prepared by the New York-based Donald N. Martin Company. The company reports that, specifically, traffic was up an average of only 3.5 percent (compared to 6.3 percent in March), the lowest average increase since November 2006.

Capacity was up much more—10.8 percent—so the average load factor for the leading carriers fell to 77.8. That was down from 82.2 in March, and it was the first April in at least six years in which the average load factor was below 81— all of which says that overall demand is not quite keeping up with the increased capacity.

Growth of U.S. travel, however, surged by 6.7 percent in February, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s latest data.  On a per-day basis, the increase in U.S.-citizen visits was an encouraging 3 percent (compared to 1.8 percent in January). The final 2007 total for U.S.-citizen visits to Europe—a record 13,329,777—was also reported by the Department of Commerce. That is a 2.6-percent increase over 2006 and remains 1.6 percent more than the previous record total of the year 2000, according to the report.

Despite the record, Europe’s market share continued to fall in 2007, by 0.4 points, to 42.7 percent of all U.S. overseas visits.  That tied the 1986 low, when traffic slumped in the wake of terrorism incidents and the Chernobyl nuke accident, the company said.

Can the U.S. economy avoid recession? Growth remained on the positive side, barely, for the first quarter.  Inflation hovered below 2007 levels, despite soaring energy and food prices.  Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., said the worst of the credit crunch was past. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was more guarded, but the Fed held its latest rate cut to ¼-point.  The dollar rose, to nearly €0.65, according to the report. For information: www.dnmartinco.com

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