The number of air passengers travelling to and from the Middle East is growing strongly despite the global slowdown in aviation travel.

Traffic on routes between the Middle East and Africa, Europe and the Far East grew substantially in September compared with the same period in 2013, increasing 14.5 per cent, 7.8 per cent and 13.4 per cent respectively, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

The strengthening passenger demand is put down to economic growth in the Middle East’s major economies, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data compiled by UK-based Markit shows sharp increases in the UAE’s output, new orders and new export orders. The rate of output growth in June was the quickest recorded since the index began in 2009.

Globally, air passenger numbers slowed in September, rising by just 2.3 per cent compared with the same period last year. This is a weaker increase than the 4.5 per cent achieved in August.

Although the decline is in part a correction, given a very strong increase in traffic in August compared with July, there are signs of a fundamental weakening in air travel demand. This is due to major economies showing signs of a slowdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

The Far East aviation market contracted 1.6 per cent in September year-on-year, with air travel in Thailand and Malaysia affected by a slowing Chinese economy, according to Iata.

A weakening eurozone is also expected to have a negative effect on air travel, with traffic within Europe rising by just 2.3 per cent, which is lower than the average of 3.6 per cent recorded this year.