Middle East air passenger traffic grows 10.7% in March on strong Asia travel

Global traffic climbed 9.5 per cent in March, supported by strong economic growth,, IATA says says in monthly report

A picture take on September 14, 2017 shows Emirates planes parked at the tarmac at Dubai's International Airport.

Middle East carriers' passenger traffic grew 10.7 per cent in March, buoyed by strong travel to Asia, the airline industry's trade body said.

Passenger load factors - a measure of the percentage of seats on planes filled by paying passengers, which relates closely to profitability - grew 4.4 percentage points to 76.6 per cent compared with the year-earlier period, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its montly report.

"This reflects healthy growth in the market between the Middle East and Asia. Demand also shows signs of stabilisation on Middle East to North America routes."

Read more: Dubai International Airport records 4.5% passenger growth in March

Demand for flights between the region and North America stabilised after the disruption in the first half of last year by now-lifted ban on electronic devices onboard planes and the wider impact from the proposed travel restrictions to the US for certain Middle East countries.

Global passenger traffic in March rose 9.5 per cent, compared to the same month a year ago, the fastest growth rate in 12 months, IATA said.

Capacity grew 6.4 per cent and load factor climbed 2.3 percentage points to 82.4 per cent.

"The strong first quarter provides healthy momentum heading into the peak travel period in the Northern Hemisphere," Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of IATA, said.

In the second quarter, rising costs, especially higher fuel prices, will moderate any boost in demand that came from lower fares, he said.

Emirates, the biggest carrier by international traffic, usually publishes its annual financial results in May and its chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has said the carrier is set for a stronger performance in its fiscal year ending March 31 than the last.

Dubai International Airport, the emirate’s largest airport, received 7.85 million passengers in March, a 4.5 per cent increase from the same period in 2017, boosted by the Easter holidays, operator Dubai Airports said last week.