Middle East airlines lead passenger traffic rise
Middle East carriers saw demand for seats grow 11.7 percent in January compared to same month last year, figures released Monday by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed.
The post-recession recovery has been the strongest in the region, the statistics showed, with passenger traffic 45 percent higher compared to the low point in September 2008.
The region's economy looks positive with a predicted 4.2 percent GDP growth which is likely to sustain growth in the air traffic market, IATA added in a statement.
But it added that political instability in parts of the region is expected to dampen demand in the affected areas with Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined comprising around a fifth of the region's international passenger traffic.
Overall, IATA announced international scheduled traffic results for January showing an 8.2 percent increase in passenger traffic and 9.1 percent growth in air freight compared to January 2010.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO, said: "We begin the year with some good news. January traffic volumes are up 8.2 percent on January 2010 and 2.6 percent on December.
"But we are all watching closely as events unfold in the Middle East. The region's instability has sent oil prices skyrocketing. Our current forecast is based on an average annual oil price of $84 per barrel [Brent].
"Today the price is over $100. For each dollar it increases, the industry is challenged to recover $1.6bn in additional costs. With $598bn in revenues, $9.1bn in profits and a profit margin of just 1.5 percent, even with good news on traffic 2011 is starting out as a very challenging year for airlines," said Bisignani.
Globally, passenger load factors in January were high, but there was evidence that supply growth was beginning to run ahead of demand, IATA added.