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Fri 3 Nov 2017 02:34 AM

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Middle East air passenger growth slows to 8-year low

IATA says region's airlines have been badly hit on US routes by now lifted laptop ban

Middle East air passenger growth slows to 8-year low
(FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Middle East carriers saw a 3.7 percent rise in passenger traffic demand in September, the slowest rate of increase since February 2009.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Middle East-US market has been hit hard by the now lifted cabin ban on large portable electronic devices, as well as the various proposed travel bans to the US.

Traffic between the region and the US has fallen for six consecutive months through August, the most recent month for which route data are available.

In the Middle East, capacity rose 4.3 percent, and load factor slipped 0.4 percent to 74.5 percent, IATA said.

Globally, IATA said that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) rose 5.7 percent compared to the same month in 2016.

This was the slowest year-on-year increase since February. Hurricanes Irma and Maria weighed heavily on the results, although growth already had been tapering.

Capacity climbed 5.3 percent and load factor edged up 0.3 percent to 81.6 percent, which was a record for the month of September.

"September’s growth in passenger demand was healthy, notwithstanding the heavy impacts of extreme weather events on the Americas," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. "Global economic conditions support rising passenger demand, but with higher cost inputs, the demand stimulation from lower fares has waned, suggesting a moderating trend in traffic growth."

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