By Andy Sambidge
Region's carriers still post best growth in world at 12.1%, down from 15.4% in previous year
Middle East airlines recorded the strongest increase in passenger traffic in the world in 2013, but growth fell below that recorded in the previous year.
Carriers from the region saw passenger traffic rise by 12.1 percent, below the 15.4 percent growth recorded in 2012 compared to 2011, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement.
The global aviation authority said carriers in the region benefited from the continued strength of regional economies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE and solid growth in business-related premium travel, particularly to developing markets such as Africa.
However it added that capacity grew faster at 12.8 percent and load factor declined slightly by 0.1 percent to 77.3 percent from 77.4 percent in 2012.
Globally, IATA reported a 5.2 percent increase in passenger demand compared to 2012. The 2013 performance aligned with the average annual growth rate of the past 30 years. Capacity rose 4.8 percent and load factor averaged 79.5 percent, up 0.4 percent over 2012.
Demand in international markets (5.4 percent) expanded at a slightly faster rate than domestic travel (4.9 percent), the IATA figures showed.
Strongest overall growth (domestic and international combined) was recorded by carriers in the Middle East (11.4 percent) followed by Asia-Pacific (7.1 percent), Latin America (6.3 percent) and Africa (5.2 percent). The slowest growth was in the developed markets of North America (2.3 percent) and Europe (3.8 percent).
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: "We saw healthy demand growth in 2013 despite the very difficult economic environment. There was a clear improvement trend over the course of the year which bodes well for 2014.
"Last year’s demand performance demonstrates the essential and growing role that aviation-enabled connectivity plays in our world. And with system-wide load factors at 79.5 percent it is also clear that airlines are continuing to drive efficiencies to an ever-higher level."For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.