Air travel demand grows 6% on a growth spike in Mid-East: Iata

GENEVA (REUTERS) - Global air travel demand grew by 6 per cent in March from a year earlier, led by emerging markets, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday.

Growth in passenger traffic was strongest in the Middle East, where demand grew 15.6 per cent and outstripped growth in capacity, meaning fewer empty seats.

"Strong demand for air travel is consistent with improving business conditions. Performance, however, has been uneven. Mature markets are seeing relatively little growth while emerging markets continue to show a robust expansion," said Iata chief executive Tony Tyler.

This year, the Easter holidays occurred in March as opposed to April last year, stoking demand for flights, Iata said.

However, while the recovery in air travel seems intact, with growth increasing every month of this year, growth has stalled in the air cargo market.

Iata said on Tuesday that global air freight traffic - seen as a short-term leading indicator of economic growth - fell in March versus the previous year on lower demand from Asian Pacific carriers.