The Middle East was the world's only aviation market to see a slowdown in annual growth in 2017, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Middle East carriers’ traffic increased 6.6 percent last year but the region’s share of global traffic (9.5 percent) fell for the first time in 20 years.
The market segment to and from North America was hit the hardest owing to factors including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices in the aircraft cabin as well as the proposed US travel bans affecting some countries in the region, IATA said in a statement.
It added that capacity climbed 6.4 percent and load factor rose 0.1 percent to 74.7 percent.
Globally, IATA said that demand rose 7.6 percent compared to 2016. This was well above the 10-year average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent.
Full year 2017 capacity rose 6.3 percent, and load factor climbed 0.9 percent to a record calendar-year high of 81.4 percent.
"2017 got off to a very strong start and largely stayed that way throughout the year, sustained by a broad-based pick-up in economic conditions. While the underlying economic outlook remains supportive in 2018, rising cost inputs, most notably fuel, suggest we are unlikely to see the same degree of demand stimulation from lower fares that occurred in the first part of 2017," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
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