Air traffic between Europe and Asia routed via the Middle East grew by 20 per cent last year, cementing the region as a major global travel hub.

The three main airports of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi all saw overall traffic grow by around 10 per cent a year, with connecting traffic representing 50 per cent of their total air travel volumes.

All three airports combined serve around 15 per cent of the total air traffic volume between Europe, Asia and southwest Pacific.

However, non-connecting passenger volumes in the Middle East are not growing as fast as other regions.

In 2012, 99 million passengers flew to the Middle East without joining a connecting flight, marking just a two per cent increase on the previous year.

In contrast, passengers with an Asian airport as their final destination grew by nine per cent in 2012, reaching a total of 787 million passengers.

Asia remains the fastest-growing and most competitive market for air travel, with a greater number of airlines operating in the market compared to other regions.

Approximately 75 per cent of the region’s air traffic is operated by three or more airlines, and 27 per cent of the market is operated by five or more airlines. In the Middle East, only 10 per cent of the aviation sector is served by five or more airlines, with 22 per cent of the market dominated by one airline.

The Middle East region has also seen relatively modest growth in low-cost airlines compared to other regions, with budget carriers representing just 14 per cent of all air travel. Europe has the highest concentration of low-cost carriers, representing 38 per cent of total air travel last year. Low-cost carriers have a 19 per cent share of the Asian market.