The latest traffic figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), show passenger growth in the Middle East fell to 4.3 per cent in August, down from 5.3 per cent in July, and a massive slump from the 10.6 per cent growth recorded during the first half of 2008.

Middle East aviation had so far avoided the worst of the crisis affecting the market worldwide, consistently recording significantly higher levels of passenger growth than the global average.

Despite the slowdown in growth, the 4.3 per cent figure for August remains well above the 1.3 per cent global average for the industry.

August is traditionally the peak season for carriers in the region. The latest figures suggest the international financial crisis and soaring fuel costs are having an impact on the Middle East and the region is no longer immune from a worldwide drop in demand.