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2009 Saw Worst Airline Demand Decline Ever

For the airlines, 2009 was a no-good, very bad year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that "full-year 2009 demand statistics for international scheduled air traffic ... showed the industry ending 2009 with the largest ever post-war decline." The decline amounted to a 3.5 percent loss in demand.

"In terms of demand, 2009 goes into the history books as the worst year the industry has ever seen. We have permanently lost 2.5 years of growth in passenger markets."

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Here in North America, demand dropped by 5.6 percent. North America accounts for just under 20 percent of the global market.

But from the depths of despair: Hope! The IATA observed a 4.5 percent increase in demand this December, compared to last, which correlates with what numerous airlines are reporting. Many have seen business travel slowly revive, and are expecting a better year ahead.

Of course, improvement in 2010 is, at this point, nothing more than theoretical, and depends largely on one thing: Us. The airlines can tempt us with fare sales, woo us with new perks, or scare us off with fees—but no matter what, in the end, it comes down to us.

With that in mind, I'll ask the obvious question: What are your travel plans for 2010? More travel than last year, or less? I'd also like to hear what influenced your decision to travel or not. Thanks!

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