Middle Eastern airlines reported just over 12 per cent rise in air freight volumes in February, compared with the same period in 2012.

This was the strongest rate of growth globally, according to the Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (Iata).

The resilience of the Middle East market has been put down to the increasing volume of trade between Asia and Africa. Middle Eastern airlines are geographically well-positioned to serve these trade flows.

On a month-on-month basis, Middle Eastern airlines saw a 0.8 per cent rise in air freight volumes in February compared with January.

Global air freight volumes decreased by 6.2 per cent in February, compared to February last year. This fall is in line with a general flattening of global freight volumes seen over the past 18 months.

Business confidence levels around the globe are improving, boosted by an increase in manufacturing activity. However, the Iata has not seen a significant upturn in air freight demand as yet.

Airlines in Latin America and Africa saw a rise in air freight demand in February, compared with the same month last year, growing by 2.9 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

However, air freight volumes carried by Asia-Pacific airlines weakened in February, falling by 14.7 per cent compared to a year ago. North American airlines fell by 3.1 per cent in February.