MidEast airlines lead world on passenger growth

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Middle East carriers saw year-on-year passenger demand expand by 10.6 percent in February, the strongest performance in the world, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday.

Capacity expansion in the region was held to 9.7 percent with the result that load factor rose 0.7 percent to 77.7 percent, also the highest for any region.

Globally, IATA data showed that demand growth is accelerating on the back of stronger business confidence, particularly in emerging regions. Passenger demand rose 3.7 percent compared to February 2012.

Since October, IATA said passenger demand has been growing at an annualised rate of nine percent. This is almost double the growth trend over the first nine months of 2012.

Tony Tyler, IATA director general and CEO, said: “February’s performance was good news. Demand for air travel continues to rise on economic optimism and improved business confidence.

"But that comes with a few caveats. Much of the growth is concentrated on emerging markets. Europe continues to be a laggard. And the handling of the banking crisis in Cyprus has reminded all of us that the deep problems in the Eurozone economies still remain."

Capacity was up one percent on the previous February and the industry load factor stood at 77.1 percent.

“Airlines are carefully managing capacity expansion, which is keeping the load factor at a record high. This is helping the industry to remain profitable despite persistently high oil prices,” Tyler added.

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