Middle Eastern airlines, led by Gulf carriers, continued their supremacy in 2014 as they posted the world’s strongest growth rates for the fourth consecutive month for international passenger demand, data issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed on Wednesday.

During the first four months of 2014, global passenger traffic demand has grown by single digits while Middle Eastern carriers have seen double-digit growth rates.

International passenger demand in April was up 8.5 per cent compared to a year ago, with all regions recording growth. Capacity rose 6.9 per cent and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 79 per cent, said a statement issued by the industry body.

“Middle East carriers’ demand soared 18.6 per cent in April, easily the strongest growth for any region. Capacity climbed 13.1 per cent and load factor jumped 3.8 percentage points to 80.8 per cent. Airlines in the Middle East continue to benefit from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel,” IATA said.

April was the strongest month yet in 2014 for the Middle East airlines. They saw 18.1 per cent growth in January, and hit a low of 10 per cent in March. February growth was 13.4 per cent.

“April’s demand growth was a pleasant surprise in the face of the moderating trend of recent months but it is not clear whether the acceleration in demand is sustainable in view of global economic trends including slower growth in China,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Latin American airlines ranked second in terms of international passenger demand, rising 8.2 per cent, followed by European carriers at 7.9 per cent. African airlines posted the weakest traffic growth of 3.9 per cent.

“The strong demand for air travel recorded in April reinforces aviation’s importance as an enabler of global economic growth and job creation, while the slowdown in Japan’s demand growth illustrates the sensitivity of the sector — and the economic benefits that it provides — to taxes,” Tyler said.


The IATA has announced that nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend its 70th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Doha, Qatar from 1-3 June 2014.

“Doha will be the center of the air transport industry next week as its leaders discuss the most important commercial aviation-related issues of our times: safety, security, environment, distribution and financial sustainability among others,” said Tyler.

The IATA AGM draws together the CEOs and senior management of its 240 member airlines that carry 84 per cent of global traffic. They will be joined by leaders from across the spectrum of industry stakeholders including governments, partners in the value chain and other international organizations.

This will be the fourth time that the AGM is hosted in the Middle East. Aviation in the region supports some two million jobs and $116 billion in economic activity.

(c)2014 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Photo Credit: Qatar Airways new Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxis after arriving on it's inaugural flight to Heathrow Airport, west London December 13, 2012. Andrew Winning / Reuters