(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Middle East airlines recorded the strongest increase in passenger traffic in 2013, a rise of 12.1 per cent compared to 2012, but below the 15.4 per cent growth recorded in 2012 compared to 2011, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said.
Carriers in the Gulf region have benefited from the continued strength of regional economies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE and solid growth in business-related premium travel, particularly to developing markets such as Africa. However, capacity grew faster at 12.8 per cent and load factor declined slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 77.3 per cent from 77.4 per cent in 2012.
Iata on Thursday announced full-year global traffic results for 2013 showing a 5.2 per cent increase in passenger demand compared to 2012. The 2013 performance aligns with the average annual growth rate of the past 30 years. Capacity rose 4.8 per cent and load factor averaged 79.5 per cent up 0.4 percentage points over 2012.
Demand in international markets (5.4 per cent) expanded at a slightly faster rate than domestic travel (4.9 per cent). Strongest overall growth (domestic and international combined) was recorded by carriers in the Middle East (11.4 per cent) followed by Asia-Pacific (7.1 per cent), Latin America (6.3 per cent) and Africa (5.2 per cent). The slowest growth was in the developed markets of North America (2.3 per cent) and Europe (3.8 per cent).
"We saw healthy demand growth in 2013 despite the very difficult economic environment. There was a clear improvement trend over the course of the year which bodes well for 2014. Last year's demand performance demonstrates the essential and growing role that aviation-enabled connectivity plays in our world. And with system-wide load factors at 79.5 per cent it is also clear that airlines are continuing to drive efficiencies to an ever-higher level," said Tony Tyler, Iata's Director General and CEO. International passenger demand grew by 5.4 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012 with all regions reporting growth. Capacity rose 4.9 per cent, boosting load factor to 79.3 per cent, up 0.4 percentage points over 2012.
Asia-Pacific airlines' traffic rose 5.3 per cent in 2013, the highest increase among the three major regions and slightly above 2012 annual growth of 5.2 per cent.
European carriers saw traffic rise 3.8 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, a slowdown compared to annual growth of 5.3 per cent in 2012.
North American carriers reported the slowest passenger growth of any region at 3.0 per cent compared to 2012 but an improvement over 2012 growth of 1.3 per cent.
Latin American carriers posted an 8.1 per cent rise in demand in 2013 over 2012, down slightly compared to the 8.4 per cent rise in 2012.
African airlines' demand rose 5.5 per cent, slightly above the global average but below 2012 growth of 7.5 per cent.
Indian domestic traffic rose 4.0 per cent last year, compared to a 2.1 per cent decline in 2012. The demand environment has been challenging in view of the weakening economy, high inflation and slowing manufacturing and resource industries. Capacity climbed 3.5 per cent in 2013, and load factor was 74.6 per cent, up 1.7 percentage points compared to 2012.