Middle Eastern airlines recorded 25.8 per cent growth in passenger traffic in February compared to the same month in 2009, the strongest growth for any region in the world, according to the Montreal-headquartered International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The traffic is partly due to regional growth in tourism, the IATA says. It also represents the success of Middle Eastern airlines in boosting their share of long-haul markets, an IATA spokesman tells MEED.

Regional airlines currently hold a 10.9 per cent market share of international passenger traffic.

Middle East airlines saw a 23.6 per cent year-on-year growth in passenger traffic in January (MEED 2:3:10).

Despite robust growth some carriers in the Middle East will see losses in 2010 due to low yields in long-haul markets which have impacted profitability.

Globally, passenger traffic increased 9.5 per cent in February compared to February 2009.

Cargo demand grew 26.5 per cent year-on-year worldwide.

Carriers in Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America all enjoyed a growth in passenger traffic of 13.5 per cent, 9.8 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively.

European carriers posted the weakest growth of just 4.3 per cent as a result of weak economies, labour strikes and unemployment, while North American carriers recorded a 4.4 per cent growth in traffic.