Middle East airlines saw an 11.7 per cent increase in passenger traffic in January 2011 compared to the same time the previous year.

Although the region has experienced the world’s strongest growth rates since 2008, traffic for Middle East airlines is likely to dip going forward due to the current protests taking place across the region, particularly in North Africa.

“Political instability in parts of the region is expected to dampen demand in the affected areas,” says Giovanni Bisignani, director-general and chief executive of Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Egypt, Libya and Tunisia together comprise about one fifth of the region’s international passenger traffic.

Middle East carriers reported a 17.8 per cent growth in passenger traffic in 2010 (MEED 3:2:11).

Globally, passenger traffic increased 8.2 per cent year-on-year.

Carriers in Europe saw a growth of 7.9 per cent in passenger traffic compared to the previous January. This was an improvement on December traffic that was depressed due to cancellations and severe weather conditions.

North American carriers recorded an 8.7 per cent growth, while airlines in Asia-Pacific saw a growth of 5.8 per cent.

Latin American carriers saw a growth of 11 per cent as the regional market bounces back from the impact of the bankruptcy of Mexicana Airlines. Carriers in Africa saw the strongest growth in passenger traffic in January, with numbers 14.3 per cent higher than the previous year.