Middle East air passengers continued to turn their backs on first and business class travel during July, with demand down 7.4 per cent year-on-year.

The latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show premium air traffic decreasing in the summer, despite a surge in total passenger numbers.

First and business class traffic for the first nine months of 2009 is down 9.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2008.

However, the region continues to outperform global airlines, which suffered a 14.1 per cent drop in July.

The continued slump in premium travel contrasts with overall passenger numbers in the Middle East, which continued to recover strongly in July, up 13.2 per cent compared with July 2008 (MEED 28:8:09).

In mid-September, the improving outlook overall prompted IATA to revise its prediction of aviation losses in the region in 2009, to $500m.