Traffic to and from the Middle East continues to defy the global trend with RPKs up almost 10% in May. Etihad launched Abu Dhabi-Istanbul services on 1 June. The latest figures published by IATA show that its 230 member airlines reported an overall decline of 9.3% in international RPKs (revenue passenger kilometres) during May. Aprils figures showed some improvement with international RPKs down just over 3% but this can be attributed to the re-timing of Easter this year. Source: IATA Only traffic to and from the Middle East continues to defy the global trend with RPKs up almost 10% in May. Across all regions capacity (ASKs - available seat kilometres) fell less quickly than demand (RPKs). While RPKs were down 9.3% capacity was down just 5% as the average load factor fell by 3.2 points from 74.5% a year ago to 71.2%. IATA acknowledges that while international RPKs in Europe for IATA member airlines fell by 9.4% in May, low cost airlines gained market share as their RPKs grew by 2.1%. Premium traffic falls 22% in April According to IATA premium traffic (people travelling on first or business class tickets) fell by 22.0% in April. While Easter will have had a (negative) impact on the demand for business travel in April this is still an alarming statistic for legacy airlines. Combined with IATAs estimate that average premium fares were down by 22% in March, then revenue from business travel in April may have been down as much as 40%. No wonder airlines such as British Airways feel the need to take drastic action regarding costs as they adjust to the new reality of their business model.