Regional instability poses a risk of disruption for Middle East aviation, one of the strongest growth markets in the industry, the International Air Transport Association said yesterday.
Iata made the warning after releasing the latest passenger data showing Middle East carriers again outperformed rivals from other regions in July.
In a month in which all regions registered growth, July traffic in the Middle East rose 7.8 per cent compared with a year ago.
But Tony Tyler, Iata's director general and chief executive, warned of potential risks to the outlook.
"The price of oil, a huge cost item for airlines, is tracking political tensions in the Middle East," he said.
"Along with the global cost impact of this, at the regional level there is the potential for disruption for one of aviation's strongest and most consistent growth markets."
Oil prices have been stoked in recent weeks by uncertainty over US military intervention in Syria, strikes in oil-producing Libya and the unrest in Egypt.
But any further escalation in instability could start to hamper carriers' operations. Qatar Airways suspended flights to Tripoli last month after the airline was reportedly threatened by armed gunmen.
The Iata July data for Middle East airlines showed a slight dip in passenger numbers compared with the previous month's growth of 12.1 per cent. It attributed part of the decline to the timing of Ramadan during July.
Capacity growth of 10.5 per cent sent load factors down two percentage points to 78.3 per cent.
International passenger traffic rose 5.1 per cent during July on an annual basis.
"Passenger demand continues to be strong. But the story of emerging markets driving growth as developed economies stagnate could be shifting," said Mr Tyler.
"The emergence of the euro zone from an 18-month recession provided the biggest boost to traffic over recent months. In contrast, the deceleration of the Chinese economy has been a dampener on air travel."
In a further indicator of the health of the Middle East aviation market, Abu Dhabi International Airport yesterday said passenger traffic rose 4.8 per cent in July compared with the year earlier period. Close to 1.4 million passengers travelled through the airport during the month.
"Efforts to attract new airline partners and new routes have led to yet another month of steady growth in passenger traffic, making Abu Dhabi International Airport one of the world's fastest growing airports," said Ahmad Al Haddabi, the chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports Company.