Middle East airlines recorded a 12.1 per cent increase in passenger traffic in April, as the region witnesses a recovery in its long-haul operations.

Airlines in the region achieved a 5.6 per cent growth in traffic in March (MEED 3:5:11).

Though political unrest continues in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, the total impact on traffic was small as these three markets account for just 6 per cent of Middle East traffic.

Globally, passenger traffic increased 16.5 per cent compared with figures recorded in April 2010.

“Demand improved significantly in April. Eliminating all distortions, we are growing at 3-4 per cent. International traffic is now 7 per cent above the early 2008 pre-recession levels, load factors are hovering around 77 per cent and business confidence is high,” says Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive officer of Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (Iata). “Unfortunately, two things are spoiling the party – demand shocks and high jet fuel prices.”

In other markets, African carriers saw traffic increase 1.2 per cent. Although the number of flights being operated to and from Egypt and Tunisia is down by about one quarter compared to the same time last year, about half of February’s 18 per cent loss in traffic in these markets has been recovered.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 5.1 per cent growth in traffic, North American carriers saw an 11.9 per cent rise and Latin American carriers saw a 25.9 per cent growth in traffic in April. European traffic grew 29.3 per cent due mostly to the comparison to April 2010, which was severely impacted by the volcanic ash crisis.