Middle East airlines posted the strongest growth rates for January with a 14.3% increase in demand, according to the latest report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The increase in demand was nearly evenly matched by a 14.4% growth in capacity, the report found, while load factors for the region stood at 78.6% for the month.
The rate of growth in air travel in the region far exceeded the global average, said the report, which noted that a quarter of the increase in international air travel in January compared to October was carried by Middle East airlines.
IATA said Middle East carriers have benefited from network expansion into emerging markets where demand for air travel has been supported by robust economic growth.
Outside the region, the aviation body said the global air travel demand statistics for January show a continuation of the uptick in passenger travel that began at the end of 2012.
Overall, demand was up 2.7% on the previous January which is slightly ahead of the 2.2% expansion in capacity. Load factors stood at 77.1%.
“Passenger travel is growing in line with business confidence levels. Recent months have seen some positive economic signs emerge in both the US and China, and the Eurozone crisis seems to have stabilized,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Airlines in emerging markets have taken the greatest share of the growth in passenger travel over recent months. On international markets, half of the growth in air travel over the last 4 months was carried by Asia-Pacific airlines.
By contrast, European and North American airlines continue to record the slowest growth rates on international markets. “In contrast to the total international market trend, European airlines have seen no growth in international passenger volumes since October 2012,” IATA said. “Although the peak of the Eurozone crisis appears to have subsided, several economies in the region are facing slow or no economic growth and high unemployment rates.”
The report also warned of other factors that could impede air travel growth across the globe, including high oil prices and potential fallout from US budget cuts. “But even with those headwinds—real and potential—we still see underlying support for continued and potentially even strengthened growth,” Tyler said.