Middle East airlines 18.1 per cent growth in air passenger traffic in January, the strongest increase globally, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Airline capacity rose 15 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2013 while load factor reached 81.1 per cent- the highest for any region.
IATA said Middle Eastern carriers are benefitting from the strength of regional economies and a solid growth in business-related premium travel.
“Business-related air travel has been supported by performance of internationally trading industries, which will likely continue expanding as export orders suggest further gains in trade ahead,” the international agency said in a statement.
“Solid performance of key economies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE has also supported strong expansion in both business and leisure travel to regions such as Europe.”
Additional investments in airport infrastructure and major expansion plans by regional airlines have helped economies such as the UAE, to increase visitor numbers this year.
Dubai International Airport reported last month that passenger traffic exceeded 6.4 million in January, up 15.1 per cent from a year earlier. Abu Dhabi too saw a rise in passenger traffic, with 1.5 million visiting the capital during January, up by 14.5 per cent from last year.
Air passenger traffic has also risen globally as total revenue passenger kilometres rose eight per cent in January compared to same period last year and by 6.8 per cent from December 2013, IATA said.
January capacity increased 6.7 per cent, pushing load factor up 0.9 percentage points to 78.1 per cent.
“2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
However, he also warned that the aviation industry remains vulnerable to external shocks despite the positive outlook for 2014.
“The second century of commercial aviation has begun on a positive note, with air traffic demand rising in line with generally positive economic indicators,” said Tyler.
“But rising geopolitical tensions around the world have the potential to cast shadows on this optimistic outlook.”