New IATA figures show 4.5% growth, still well off the 5-year average pace of over 11%
Middle East carriers saw a 4.5 percent increase in air passenger demand for July, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA said this was an acceleration from the 3.6 percent annual growth seen in June, but was still well off the 5-year average pace of 11.2 percent.
It added in a statement that the Middle East to North America market has been affected by a combination of factors in 2017, including the recently-lifted cabin ban on large portable electronic devices, as well as a wider impact from the proposed travel bans to the US.
Traffic growth on the Middle East-US route was already slowing in early 2017, in line with a moderation in the pace of expansion of nonstop services flown by the largest Middle Eastern airlines.
July capacity climbed 3.6 percent compared to a year ago and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 81.5 percent.
Globally, IATA said total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 6.8 percent, compared to the same month last year, down from 7.7 percent year-over-year growth recorded in June.
"As is evidenced by the record high load factor in July, the appetite for air travel remains very strong. However, the stimulus effect of lower fares is softening in the face of rising cost inputs. This suggests a moderating in the supportive demand backdrop," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Separately, Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight volumes increased 9.3 percent in July and capacity decreased 0.4 percent. Amid strong competition from other region’s carriers particularly on the Asia-Europe route, the Middle East carriers are not seeing as strong a pickup in the seasonally adjusted traffic trend as other region’s carriers.