The Week in Stats: Travel Industry Takes Stock of Winter

According to the latest travel industry research, early 2015 was a good time for air travel but a difficult time for small businesses.

Air Travel Demand Up 6.2 Percent in February

In February the timing of the Lunar New Year helped boost air travel demand, as measured in total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) 6.2 percent in February over the same period last year, according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 

February's 6.2 percent growth was also an improvement on the January year-over-year increase of 4.5 percent. February capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.6 percent, and load factor rose 0.5 percentage points to 78.5 percent.

“Lunar New Year celebrations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, certainly contributed to the robust February performance, but it is also clear that solid demand for connectivity is offsetting economic weakness in some regions including the Eurozone,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.  

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77 Percent of Small Businesses Hurt by Severe Winter Weather

While signs were good for air travel, early 2015 was less kind to small businesses thanks to severe winter weather in the eastern and midwestern U.S.

According to the Main Street Pulse Report, a quarterly study of small business trends, 77 percent of businesses surveyed were hurt by the severe winter weather. Businesses negatively impacted the most were in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast regions, with 68 percent of them in the Northeast alone.

Customer traffic and sales were consistently down. 67 percent of businesses experienced slower than normal customer traffic and nearly half saw a 50 percent decrease in sales.

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Automated Kiosks Drop New York Airport Waits 22 Percent

At the same time, travelers headed to JFK and Newark Liberty airports got some good news when a study by the Global Gateway Alliance showed that new automated customs kiosks reduced wait times by an average of 22 percent. 

The study, which compared data from 2013 to 2014, calculated average wait times, maximum wait times, and arriving passenger traffic for each international terminal at JFK and Newark Liberty airports. 

Wait times at terminals with kiosks dropped dramatically year to year, by 22 percent (6 minutes), whereas terminals without the kiosks held steady, experiencing on average a 0.43 minute reduction, which amounts to a marginal 1.54 percent. 

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82 Percent Worry About Mobile Data Charges Overseas

Lastly, a new study by Serious Insights and Telestial Inc. provided new insights into how worries about mobile data charges overseas could be harming travelers' productivity. 

Six out of ten significantly change their behavior and use of data, becoming less likely to respond right away to important emails from work or family, participate in online meetings, use GPS for directions or perform other activities they take for granted back home.

"Much of the change in behavior stems from fear of facing big cell phone bill charges upon returning home," according to the report, "American Travelers: Not Masters of International Data." 82 percent of respondents said they worried about the cost of using data while traveling overseas. Yet, despite these worries, only 43 percent reported buying a SIM card — usually a less expensive alternative — on at least one trip abroad.

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