International air traffic remained relativity flat this August with the strongest growth in demand experienced by Middle Eastern and Latin American carriers, reports The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today.

The international travel demand grew a total of 5.1 percent in last month in comparison to August 2011; however, Middle Eastern carriers led by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways exceeded the global growth rate with a 16.7 percent increase in demand and 13.3 percent growth in capacity. These numbers are bolstered by the timing of the religious holiday Ramadan, which lasted the entire month of August in 2011 and significantly decreased air travel. Demand for Latin American carriers also exceeded global growth rates with a 7.3 percent increase.

Demand for air travel was the weakest in the Asia-Pacific and North American regions where growth remained relatively flat in the year-to-date comparisons.

Global demand for Asia-Pacific carriers grew only 2.9 percent over August of last year, and had declined steadily throughout the summer months. In a reversed situation, demand for North American airlines decreased 0.5 percent from August 2011, but actually increased 0.5 percent from the previous month of July. European demand growth was also stronger in August than July.

International air freight volume has declined even more rapidly than passenger demand over the past year. Volume decreased as much as 5.5 percent for Asia-Pacific carriers, although Middle Eastern carriers again experienced the highest growth rate – 11.3 percent – for freight volume.

As the economy shifts, it is clear that there are regions where air travel continues to grow. It may be time that legacy carriers in the U.S. and Europe look to learn from airlines in the Middle East that have managed to keep capacity growth and passenger demand on the incline.

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