Middle East carriers experienced the strongest traffic growth for any region in March at 15.6 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest statistics released by IATA (International Air Transport Association)  on Wednesday.
A 14.2 per cent rise in the capacity of region’s carriers boosted load factor one percentage point to 79.7 per cent, IATA said in a statement, adding that even though they accounted for a smaller share of international air travel (13.4 per cent) they carried about 20 per cent of the increase in demand over the past six months.
Global air traffic , meanwhile, posted a 5.9 per cent in crease in March compared to the same period a year ago on the back of strong performances in emerging markets, IATA said.
“Strong demand for air travel is consistent with improving business conditions. Performance, however, has been uneven. Mature markets are seeing relatively little growth while emerging markets continue to show a robust expansion,” Tony Tyler, IATA Director General and CEO , said in a statement. He added that although oil prices have softened in recent weeks, they remain high against historical averages. “In view of this, airlines are responding with a very cautious approach to capacity management,” said Tyler.
The other emerging market to record strong growth  after the Middle East was Latin America with March demand up 11.8 per cent in the region.
Further, global international passenger demand, rose six per cent compared to the year-ago period, with capacity up 3.5 per cent, pushing up load factor to 79.9 per cent, according to IATA estimates.
“Business confidence levels continue to foreshadow an economic upturn. It is important that governments avoid placing roadblocks to recovery. The flight delays and cancellations inflicted on air travellers to, from and within the US owing to sequestration-related budget cuts had the potential to inflict real damage to the economy if they had been permitted to continue,” said Tyler.