New IATA figures also show that Emirates is the world's third largest cargo carrier
The Middle East gained a 5 percent share of the global aviation market last year, flying 206.1 million passengers, an increase of 9.1 percent over 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Latest figures released by IATA also named Emirates as the third biggest cargo carrier in the world with 2.5 million freight tonnes lifted in 2016.
Only FedEx Express and United Parcel Service carried more.
IATA said airlines carried 3.8 billion passengers on scheduled services last year, an increase of 7 percent over 2015, representing an additional 242 million air trips.
Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region carried the largest number of passengers - 1.3 billion - and took a 35 percent market share, ahead of Europe (26 percent) and North America (24 percent).
The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passengers carried (domestic and international) were Southwest Airlines (151.8 million), American Airlines (144.2 million), Delta Air Lines (143.3 million), China Southern Airlines (114.5 million) and Ryanair (112 million), IATA added.
The figures showed that US citizens are the world’s most prevalent travellers. Some 810 million passengers traveled on US passports in 2016 comprising 21 percent of all passengers worldwide.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.