Middle East carriers recorded the strongest growth in passenger traffic globally in March, enjoying a 25.9 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

The Montreal-headquartered International Air Transport Association (Iata) attributes the increase to the five per cent regional economic growth and market share gains on long-haul markets that go through Middle Eastern hubs.

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

Airlines in the region recorded a 25.8 per cent growth in passenger traffic in February (MEED 30:3:10).

In global terms, passenger traffic rose 10.3 per cent, while cargo traffic increased 28.1 per cent in March.

Carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Africa saw passenger traffic rise 12.6 per cent, 7.8 per cent and 13.6 per cent respectively.

European carriers saw a growth of six per cent, while carriers in Latin America saw the weakest growth of just 4.6 per cent in March due to the impact of the earthquake in Chile.

The worldwide recovery being witnessed is expected to dip in April due to the eruption of a volcano in Iceland.

The eruption caused an ash cloud that resulted in flights being grounded as many European airports and airspace were shut down over a six-day period.

Iata predicts the volcano disruption will cost airlines $1.7bn in lost revenues and European carriers are expected to shoulder the majority of this as they were already showing the weakest recovery up until March.