Middle East airlines posting strong air traffic growth

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Middle Eastern airlines by far witnessed the strongest traffic growth in September, with demand hitting 13.3% year-on-year.

The region registered a growth rate of 17% in August due to seasonal impacts, including Ramadan, dampening traffic.

The IATA report comes at a time when global aviation industry is facing a slowdown in the rate of traffic growth.

International demand for passenger traffic was up 4.1% compared to September 2011. For air cargo, demand growth was even weaker at 0.6%. The growth trend in air travel started to flatten in the second quarter, with no growth in passenger market between April and August.

“A two-speed recovery is emerging into a multi-speed reality,” said IATA director general Tony Tyler. “Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East are growing strongly.

The global aviation body head also said that European airlines are experiencing profitless growth as they struggle with high fixed costs and taxes.

“In Africa, the challenge is to turn growth opportunities into profits. But for North American airlines the focus is on tightly managing capacity in order to optimise profits in a slow to no-growth environment.

“Asia-Pacific carriers outside China are a mixed bag. Robust growth in China is being tempered by faltering markets in Japan and India,” Tyler said.

“Putting regional diversity aside, the fact that airlines are making any money at all with weak markets and high fuel prices is a tribute to their strong business performance – as evidenced by maintaining global load factors close to 80pc since the start of 2012,” the IATA boss added.

“Even with that, airlines are expected to eke out a global net profit margin of only 0.6pc. It’s a tough year.”

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