However, due to the increase in airline capacity in the region, Middle East airlines still saw a 20.3 per cent growth in the number of passengers, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This compared with a global average of 9.2 per cent.

IATA’s latest data shows that the number of sold seats, known as the load factor, fell by 0.6 per cent globally, the biggest monthly drop in four years. It blames uncertainty due to the fragile economic climate.

“Load factors tell the story. They fell in the four largest carrier regions, showing the growing impact of the US economic slowdown on the airline industry,” says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.