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Middle East carriers February demand increases by 3.4%, reports IATA

Middle East carriers recorded a 3.4% demand increase in February 2018, compared to the same period last year, as reported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Capacity rose 3.9% and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage point to 74.1%. Carriers in the region faced significant headwinds over the past year including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices as well as the proposed travel bans to the US from some countries in the region.

IATA also announced global passenger traffic results for February showed a rebound in traffic growth following the slower demand experienced in January, which was owing to temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general and CEO, said: “As expected, we saw a return to stronger demand growth in February, after the temporary slowdown in January. This is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid business confidence. However, increases in fuel prices–and labor costs in some countries–likely will temper the amount of traffic stimulation from lower airfares this year.”

Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for the month rose 7.6%, compared to February 2017, up from 4.6% year-over-year growth in January. Monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.3%, and load factor rose 0.9 percentage point to 80.4%, surpassing the previous record for the month of 79.5%, which was set in February 2017.

February international passenger demand rose 7.2% compared to February 2017, which was up from the 4.2% increase recorded in January. Led by airlines in Latin America, all regions recorded better year-on-year growth compared to January’s results. Total capacity climbed 5.9%, and load factor rose 1.0 percentage point to 79.3%.

Domestic travel demand rose 8.2% in February compared to February 2017, up from 4.9% year-over-year growth in January, with all markets reporting increases, led by India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 7.0%, and load factor increased 0.9 percentage point to 82.3%.

de Juniac remarked: “Aviation has helped to lift millions from poverty, but for aviation to deliver even greater benefits in future, adequate, affordable infrastructure is a must.

“A case in point is the Latin American region, where aviation already supports jobs for 5 million people and $170bn in GDP. The potential for aviation to do far more exists, but without concerted action by governments to address capacity shortfalls, the region could face an infrastructure crisis in the future. Within the region, Mexico City is the most critical of the bottlenecks. The current airport was designed for 32 million passengers annually but serves 47 million. The solution is a new airport which is already under construction. But its future has been politicised in the current presidential election. The vital need for the new airport needs to be understood by all.”

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