Middle East airlines operators see demand go sky high
Middle East airlines' demand jumped by more than a fifth in March compared with the same month last year, the largest rate of growth for any region.
According to the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) global traffic results for last month, the increase for the Middle East was only partly a reflection of regional disruption.
"Comparisons with March last year are affected by events that depressed passenger demand in 2011, including the Arab Spring, which disrupted travel in the Middle East and North Africa," said the airline group's report. "But IATA estimates this only inflated traffic gains by 7 percentage points."
The report said passenger growth for the Middle East's airlines was up 20.9 percent, underpinned by a 12.4 percent rise in capacity. That had resulted in load factors rising by 78.7 percent.
A similar increase in performance was recorded for freight with Middle East carriers experiencing a 15.1 percent rise in demand, the healthiest performance of all the regions. IATA said only 4 percentage points of that rise could be put down to the Arab Spring depressing traffic in March last year.
Global traffic results for March this year showed total passenger demand rose 7.6 percent and freight demand climbed 0.3 percent compared with the same month last year.
Tony Tyler, the director general and chief executive of IATA, had said this year he believed the Middle East carriers were leading the way out of the recession. But based on March's figures, the rest of the industry was having trouble keeping up, and he blamed oil prices. "We have not seen such sustained high oil prices previously. Jet fuel prices have risen 8 percent since January. "Considering that fuel now accounts for 34 percent of average operating costs, it's an increase that hurts," said Mr. Tyler.
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