Economic Decline Affecting Airline Cargo, Passenger Numbers

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The jobs of thousands of Wichitans depend on the economic well-being of airlines around the world. November's numbers from the International Transport Association (IATA) painted a bleak picture for those air carriers.

Both Airbus and Boeing build and sell cargo jets. The forward system of the Boeing 747 freighter is built by Spirit AeroSystems.

World carriers had a 13.5% drop in cargo traffic in November. The director of IATA says that number is shocking and shows the rapid fall in global trade and the broadening impact of the economic slowdown.

The group also reports passenger traffic dropped by 4.6% in November.

North American carriers, including the U.S., experienced a 14.4% drop in cargo traffic and a nearly 5% drop in passengers.

The Asia-Pacific region, including China, had the biggest drop in cargo traffic, 17%, and a nearly 10% drop in passengers.

Both Boeing and Airbus are getting the lion's share of their plane orders from that region.

Airlines have already started cutting the number of flights in anticipation of fewer passengers and cargo. Even so, the average number of empty seats has climbed to 27%, from 24% the year before.

Airline revenues are dropping and the transport association head says thousands of jobs are at risk.

The planemakers are at risk as well. If the airlines bleed revenues long enough, the result will be fewer plane orders, which eventually hits the Wichita-area economy.

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