Dubai: Airlines in the Middle East have seen a rebound in traffic, following a decline recorded earlier this year, according to the latest official figures.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on Wednesday that passenger demand rose by 2.9 per cent in April compared to the same period in 2018. This was a recovery from the 3 per cent traffic decline in March.
However, it’s not all positive for the regional market. IATA noted that, in seasonally-adjusted terms, the downward trend in traffic growth continues, reflecting the broader structural changes affecting the aviation industry in the Middle East.
In terms of capacity, or available seat kilometres, airlines recorded a 1.6 per cent decline, while load factor soared 3.5 percentage points to 80.5 per cent.
Airlines in the Middle East enjoy the third-biggest share of the global market at 9.2 per cent, just behind Asia Pacific (34.4 per cent) and Europe (26.7 per cent).
Overall, airlines across the globe saw revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rise by 4.3 per cent compared to April 2018.
Capacity increased by 3.6 per cent, and load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 82.8 per cent, which was a record for the month of April, surpassing last year’s record of 82.2 per cent. Among the regional markets, record load factors were noted in Africa, Europe and Latin America.
One of the leading carriers in the region, Emirates, had reported a 69 per cent decline in profits on the back of high fuel costs and strong US dollar.
“2018-19 has been tough, and our performance was not as strong as we would have liked,” said Shaikh Ahmad bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group.
“Higher oil prices and the strengthened US dollar eroded our earnings, even as competition intensified in our key markets.”