Middle East airlines posted the strongest growth in international passenger demand globally in January, according to the latest report released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Regional carriers saw year-over-year demand growth of 14.4 per cent, compared to 9.3 per cent globally, the report found.
Capacity among Middle East airlines also climbed 11.4 per cent while the load factor rose against the year-ago period for a third consecutive month, up 2.1 percentage points to 79.8 per cent.
Globally as well, capacity rose 7.5 per cent and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage point to 80.3 per cent.
All regions recorded year-over-year increases in international passenger demand.
The report also found that domestic passenger demand climbed 9.9 per cent in January year-on-year.
All markets except Brazil showed growth, paced by double-digit increases in China, India and Russia. Capacity increased 8.7 per cent and load factor was 80.1 per cent – up 0.9 per cent percentage points.
“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016.”
Overall, revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 9.6 per cent in January 2017 – the strongest increase in more than five years.
Results were positively affected by traffic associated with the Lunar New Year celebrations, which occurred in January this year, IATA said. It estimates that holiday-related travel contributed up to one-half a percentage point in extra demand growth.
“Aviation is the business of freedom. Air travel liberates people to lead better lives and creates greater economic opportunity for all by bringing people closer to trade and markets,” said de Juniac.
“Governments have a responsibility to secure their borders. They must also preserve the enormous economic and social benefits provided by borders that are open to trade and travel,” he added.