By Andy Sambidge
Airlines in region see big rise in international markets, more than double the growth seen in March
Middle East carriers reported a 12.1 percent increase in international markets, more than double that seen in the previous month, according to latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The significant increase from the 5.3 percent growth in demand in March indicated a return of confidence to the region’s long-haul operations, IATA said.
While political unrest in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria continued through the month, the impact was small as the three markets combined account for only six percent of Middle East traffic, it added.
Globally, traffic results for April showed a rebound in international markets with 16.5 percent growth compared to April 2010.
While this is exaggerated by the comparison to April 2010 during which European airspace was closed due to the volcanic ash crisis, international travel markets in April had grown to reach a level seven percent higher than the pre-recession peak of early 2008, IATA added in a statement.
The increase in passenger demand was met by a 16.8 percent increase in capacity.
Passenger load factors fell slightly from 76.8 percent in April 2010 to 76.7 percent in April this year.
Meanwhile, international freight grew by 5.4 percent against a capacity increase of 12.3 percent, pushing the freight load factor down from 55.3 percent in April 2010 to 51.9 percent this April.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “Demand improved significantly in April. Eliminating all distortions, we are growing at 3-4 percent.
"International traffic is now seven percent above the early 2008 pre-recession levels, load factors are hovering around 77 percent and business confidence is high. Unfortunately two things are spoiling the party —demand shocks and high jet fuel prices,” he added.