By Andy Sambidge
IATA says region's carriers outshine rivals around the world; cargo also up by 9.4%
Middle East airlines recorded double-digit traffic growth in January, by far the best performance in the world, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday.
The region's carriers posted a 14.5 percent, representing a return to the growth rates last seen in 2010.
Capacity rose 10.6 percent while load factor climbed 2.7 points to 78.5 percent, among the highest of the regions.
Middle Eastern carriers also enjoyed a 9.4 percent rise in freight demand, also the healthiest performance among the regions.
Globally, IATA said global passenger traffic rose 5.7 percent but freight slumped 8.0% decline in air freight ight percent compared to the same month in 2011.
The occurrence of Chinese New Year in January (rather than in February as in 2011) exaggerated the increase in passenger demand and the fall in air freight, IATA said in a statement.
"Stripping this out, the underlying trend was for stronger passenger growth, while stabilised weakness in cargo markets continues," it added.
Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO, said: "The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilised, albeit at weak levels.
"And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel. However, airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry's fortunes like the sword of Damocles."