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Mideast passenger demand outperforms global growth: IATA report
Last Updated: 2013-02-01 13:17 | Xinhua
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its annual report 2012 released Thursday that the year-on-year increase in passenger traffic hit 5. 3 percent, while the Middle East saw a whopping 15.4 percent growth despite the ongoing turmoil in some Arab countries.

Globally, the 5.3 percent increase in passenger demand was slightly down from 2011 growth of 5.9 percent but above the 5 percent 20-year average. The report added that Middle East airlines contributed almost a third of the total expansion in international passenger markets ahead of the 8.9 percent growth recorded in 2011 that was impacted by the so-called Arab Spring.

Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO, said passenger demand grew strongly in 2012 despite the economic bad news that dominated much of the last 12 months. "This demonstrates just how integral global air travel is for today's connected world," he added.

The surge in passenger demand in the Middle Eastern region was mainly driven by ongoing airport capacity increases in the Gulf Arab region. Earlier in the week, the Middle East's biggest airport in Dubai said it hosted last year 57.68 million passengers, a 13.2 percent increase over 2011. With this figure, Dubai surpassed Hong Kong International Airport as the third largest airport in the world.

Growth and high aircraft utilization combined to help airlines deliver an estimated 6.7 billion U.S. dollars profit in 2012 despite high fuel prices. "But with a net profit margin of just 1. 0 percent the industry is only just keeping its head above water," said Tyler.

IATA represents some 240 airlines comprising 84 percent of global air traffic.

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