Middle East airlines saw traffic grow by nearly nine percent in 2011 but load factors were among the lowest in the world, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.
Capacity on the region's carriers rose 9.7 percent, putting pressure on load factors, which at 75.4 percent, were the lowest except for Africa.
However, IATA added that December ended on a more positive note, with traffic up 11.7 percent against an 11 percent rise in capacity and a load factor of 77.1 percent.
"Airlines in this region have slowed the pace at which they have expanded but price competitive products and geographically well-positioned hubs are enabling Middle East carriers to continue to improve their share of long-haul markets," IATA said in a statement.
It said that global passenger demand rose 5.9 percent compared to 2010, in line with long-term growth trends.
In contrast, global cargo markets contracted by 0.7 percent for the year; but recorded positive demand growth in December of 0.2 percent.
Middle East freight was up by 8.2 percent for the full year and by 10.8 percent for December.
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “Given the weak conditions in Western economies the passenger market held up well in 2011.
"But overall 2011 was a year of contrasts. Healthy passenger growth, primarily in the first half of the year, was offset by a declining cargo market."
He added: “Improving business confidence and encouraging news from the US economy are heartening developments. But it is far too early to start predicting a soft landing for 2012. The euro zone crisis is far from over."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.
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