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Sun 1 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Middle East tops cargo league

IATA's March 2008 results for international passenger and freight traffic showed that growth was slowing in both areas, with freight traffic up only 3.2%, compared to the 4.3% recorded in the same period a year earlier.

IATA's March 2008 results for international passenger and freight traffic showed that growth was slowing in both areas, with freight traffic up only 3.2%, compared to the 4.3% recorded in the same period a year earlier.

However, the Middle East region is still performing better than its competitors, even though its figures are down slightly on last year.

"Traffic only tells a part of the story," said IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisgnani. "Astronomical oil prices are hitting hard, and the buffer of an expanding economy has disappeared. The fortunes of the industry have taken a major turn for the worse."

Freight growth (measured as freight tonne kilometres) rose 15.2% in the Middle East, in sharp contrast to significant drops in Latin America and Africa, minimal growth in Asia-Pacific and Europe, and 8.8% growth in North America. However, the region only accounts for 7.4% of global cargo traffic, according to IATA's figures.

"In the face of such dramatic shifts in the global economy, consolidation is critical," added Bisignani. "The proposed consolidation in the US is good news. But it makes no sense that consolidation is limited to domestic partners. This is a global industry that needs to be run like a global business."

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