x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Middle East air traffic growth continues slowdown

Passenger traffic growth slows sharply in August to record one of its biggest drops in recent years.

Middle East passenger traffic growth slowed sharply in August to record one of its biggest drops in demand in recent years for the region's 35 airlines, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA said the global economic slowdown and elevated fuel prices had finally begun to affect the buoyant Middle East travel market. The August drop to 4.3 per cent growth, unusually low for a season that is one of the most active for regional travel, follows a similarly lacklustre July growth figure of 5.3 per cent, the IATA said.

This contrasts with growth of passenger demand in the first half of the year, which the IATA said expanded at an average of 10.6 per cent, in line with the last four years of double digit growth for the region. Worldwide, international passenger demand slowed to 1.3 per cent, following 1.9 per cent in July as the global economic slowdown slipped into panic mode. The IATA also warned earlier this month that worldwide airlines stood to lose US$5.2 billion (Dh19.08bn) this year if current economic conditions persisted.

The IATA's analysis did not separate the Gulf region's results, where airlines such as Etihad have recorded one of their best summers ever. igale@thenational.ae