Regional demand for air travel rose in August despite signs of economic slowdown, says Iata

Middle Eastern carriers reported an increase in demand in August despite a slowdown in the economy.

Demand rose 13.7 per cent from the same period last year as capacity increased 13.5 per cent, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Iata attributed the rise in demand to robust economic growth even though non-oil sectors showed signs of slowdown in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

On a global basis, demand in August increased 7.1 per cent year-on-year, Iata said.

“Although the global economic outlook is decidedly mixed, demand for aviation connectivity remains strong,” said Tony Tyler, Iata’s director general and chief executive.

According to Iata, “growth in air travel, particularly the more price-sensitive economy class leisure travel, has received some support from lower fares”.

The load factor of airlines in the Middle East edged up 0.1 percentage points to 83.7 per cent to rank the third-highest globally, after European and North American airlines.

Recovery in the euro zone led to the 1.3 percentage point rise in load factor to 88.3 per cent, while capacity rose 4.1 per cent, according to Iata.

The North American airlines reported a 3.7 per cent increase in capacity and 0.6 percentage point rise in load factor to 87.2 per cent.

In the UAE, Emirates and flydubai have increased capacity or added new routes during the third quarter.

Emirates started flights to Multan, Pakistan; Mashhad, Iran; and Orlando, Florida; while flydubai started new flights to Saudi Arabia.

The UAE carriers have new routes and capacity expansions on existing routes scheduled for the rest of the year as oil prices remain at year-long lows.

Emirates on Thursday launched its second daily flight from Dubai International Airport to Boston, adding 354 seats.

Airlines based in the Middle East reported the highest growth rate globally in the volume of cargo ferried in August at 10.4 per cent after a 14.3 per cent year-on-year rise in capacity, acording to Iata data released on Wednesday. They were followed by African airlines with 2.3 per cent growth and European airlines with 0.7 per cent growth.

Carriers in Asia Pacific, North America and Latin America all reported declines in the cargo volumes carried.

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