Carriers in the Middle East recorded growth of 13.4 per cent in February- the strongest year-on-year traffic growth globally, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Regional airlines are benefitting from the strength of GCC economies and the solid growth in business travel, the report said.
In addition, Gulf countries are also seeing an acceleration in their non-oil sectors, which further buoys demand for air travel, IATA said in a statement.
Middle Eastern carriers’ capacity rose 12.5 per cent while the load factor climbed 0.6 per cent to reach 78.9 per cent.
Continuous airport infrastructure expansion and the addition of new routes by major Gulf airlines have also fuelled passenger traffic growth.
Dubai International Airport handled around 5.1 million passengers in February, up 11.4 per cent from a year earlier while passenger traffic at the Abu Dhabi International Airport rose to 1.41 million in February, up 15.6 per cent from a year earlier.
Global air passenger traffic grew by 5.4 per cent in February but fell short of the 8.2 per cent growth in January.
Cumulative air traffic growth for the first two months of 2014 was 6.9 per cent, which compares favourably with the 5.2 per cent growth achieved in 2013, the statement said.
February capacity rose 5.2 per cent while the load factor climbed 0.2 percentage points to 78.1 per cent. All regions except Africa experienced growth in passenger traffic.
“People are flying. Strong demand is consistent with the pick-up in global economic growth, particularly in advanced economies.” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
He said that the strong demand for air travel at a time of rising business confidence also indicates the relationship between aviation and economic growth.
“The connectivity provided by aviation both enables and sustains trade and development, while economic activity creates demand for aviation,” said Tyler.
“Governments that treat aviation as if it were a luxury item–or a necessary evil–are depriving their populations of a key engine of growth and job creation.”