Global air traffic up by 9.5 percent

 International travel showed a strong recovery this year, after a dramatic decline in 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.  The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) said international air traffic passenger demand rose 9.5 percent in February while cargo demand grew 26.5 percent.

 In explaining the impressive growth, the group noted that February 2009 marked the bottom of the cycle for passenger traffic during the global economic recession. Passenger demand must recover by a further 1.4 percent to return to pre-crisis levels, it said. 

 "We are moving in the right direction. In two to three months, the industry should be back to pre-recession traffic levels. This is still not a full recovery. The task ahead is to adjust to two years of lost growth," said Mr. Giovanni Bisignani, director general of IATA.

 European carriers posted the weakest growth at 4.3 percent in February while North American airlines recorded an equally sluggish growth of 4.4 percent.  Asia-Pacific carriers recorded a strong traffic growth of 13.5 percent, which was partly boosted by the timing of the Chinese New Year in February.  Middle Eastern airlines recorded a traffic growth of 25.8 percent, the strongest for any region. Successful competition on long-haul connections to Asia over Middle Eastern hubs has improved the market share of the region's carriers.

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