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Global passenger demand growth signals strong start for 2017: IATA

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-08 17:12

DUBAI — Worldwide passenger demand growth hit 9.3 percent year-on-year in January, representing a five-year peak, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday.

The IATA report revealed that Middle East carriers had the strongest year-over-year demand growth in January at 14.4 percent.

This is in line with world's busiest airport Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates which said earlier this month passengers in January reached an all-time high of eight million.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO said 2017 is off to a "very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011."

Asia Pacific carriers recorded an increase of 10.9 percent compared to January 2016, "helped with the impact of Lunar New Year-related travel and solid growth on routes within Asia," said IATA.

In contrast, North American airlines had the slowest demand growth, with traffic rising 3.2 percent in January, compared to 12 months ago.

IATA estimates the holiday-related travel contributed up to one-half a percentage point in extra demand growth. January capacity rose eight percent, and load factor climbed 1.2 percentage points to 80.2 percent.

IATA noted that the increase in flights to and out of China supported the demand during Chinese Spring Holidays. The Middle East's biggest carrier Emirates for example established flights between Dubai and Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in central China in May last year.

Meanwhile in December last year, Dubai international airport welcomed Sichuan Airlines' first direct flight from Chengdu to the Gulf Arab emirate.

IATA's de Juniac said on the outlook for 2017, the rise in global demand "is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political shock events seen in early 2016."

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