The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has today reported that international passenger traffic fell last month as flights were hit by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.
The ash cloud has meant the recovery in the airline industry has taken a knock as flights were cancelled throughout the month.
According to IATA, airline traffic fell by 2.4% in the month but European carriers were hit the hardest, with traffic falling 11.7%.
North American carriers were also hit, but not as severely, reporting a 1.9% fall.
Commenting, Giovanni Bisignani, director general of IATA, said: “The ash crisis knocked back the global recovery – impacting carriers in all regions.”
Earlier this year, IATA said the global airline industry was improving, with both passenger and freight numbers expected to grow this year.
However, Mr Bisignani added that the ash cloud “could not have come at a worse time” for Europe.
In January, the industry body said 2009 saw the biggest decline in air passenger traffic since the aftermath of World War II.
The global economic downturn had a devastating impact on the airline industry, which led to a slump in demand as fewer people travelled by air.
Many airlines went bust during the downturn, not just due to a fall in demand but also as a result of higher fuel prices.