Middle East airlines achieved a 7.8 per cent growth in passenger traffic in May compared to the same month in 2010.

The data shows that although political unrest in the region continues to have a dramatic impact on traffic in certain areas of the region, the overall impact on carriers is limited.

Globally, passenger traffic grew 6.8 per cent in May, compared with May 2010.

“There are risks associated with political unrest in the Middle East and the European currency crisis. We still expect the industry to make $4bn this year. That is a pathetic 0.7 per cent margin and another shock could alter the industry’s fortunes dramatically,” says Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (Iata).

“It’s another tough year for a very fragile industry.”

In other markets, African airlines saw traffic increase 1.1 per cent in May. Travel markets to the region have been depressed this year due to uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Flights to these two destinations are about 20 per cent down from the norm, although the situation is showing signs of improvement.

Carriers in Asia-Pacific recorded a 4.7 per cent growth in passenger traffic, while carriers in Europe achieved a 10.9 per cent traffic growth.

Latin American carriers saw the fastest international growth of 21.3 per cent in May due to strong economic growth and increased travel and trade flows to North America and across the Pacific.

Carriers in North America recorded a 4.5 per cent growth in passenger traffic.