By Andy Sambidge
Latest IATA data shows region's airlines are the world's best performers for the month
Middle East airlines saw passenger demand expand by 12.1 percent in June compared to a year ago, the strongest growth in the world, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Demand growth in the region was slightly below the 13.4 percent capacity expansion resulting in a load factor of 78.4 percent, IATA said in a statement.
The demand for new routes to emerging markets in Africa and Asia has fuelled the growth of the Gulf hubs, it added.
IATA's latest figures showed year-on-year growth of six percent globally. The robust growth, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), was ahead of the 4.8 percent demand growth reported over the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.
It was also ahead of the 5.6 percent expansion in capacity for June over the previous year. This pushed the passenger load factor to 81.7 percent.
While the strong growth trend was reflected in all regions, IATA said that Asia-Pacific airlines were responsible for half of the increase in RPKs from May to June.
"Due to the volatility of Asia-Pacific performance it is too early to say if this acceleration marks a trend for the rest of the year," IATA said.
European airlines were another highlight of the month. They reported a second consecutive month of solid growth (4.8 percent) reflecting an easing in recessionary conditions in the Eurozone and an improvement in business and consumer confidence.
Emerging markets were once again the strongest performers, particularly Africa and the Middle East, IATA added.
Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO, said: "June was a positive month for passenger markets. The stability in the Eurozone, albeit tentative, is giving a boost to business and consumer confidence.
"The half-year report for passenger markets is broadly positive. There is plenty of evidence to support some cautious optimism. Airlines are expecting continued growth in demand, but there is little immediate hope for an improvement in yields. In the short term, cost control remains high on every airline's agenda. And the longer-term challenge is to expand value streams to generate sustainable levels of profitability," he said.
The July IATA Airline Business Confidence index reported that 61.5 percent of respondents expect an improvement in demand. But only half of those (30.8 percent) expect any improvement in yields over the next 12 months.