Middle Eastern airlines posted the strongest growth rates for January with a 14.3 per cent increase in demand.
This was nearly evenly matched by a 14.4 per cent growth in capacity, and load factors for the region were above the global average at 78.6 per cent, according to a release issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The region's carriers have successfully tapped into demand from emerging markets with the strength of their network structures and efficient hubs.
The IATA released global air-travel demand statistics for January, showing a continuation in the uptick in passenger travel that began at the end of 2012. Overall, demand was up 2.7 per cent from January 2012, which is slightly ahead of the 2.2 per cent expansion in capacity. Load factors stood at 77.1 per cent.
Strong demand for air travel, driven by the occasion of Chinese New Year, has distorted the January figures. Chinese New Year celebrations fell in January in 2012 but fell in February this year. Comparisons to such a strong month made demand in January 2013 appear weaker than the underlying trend would indicate.
After adjusting for such seasonal factors, IATA estimated that the actual growth would have been 3.5 per cent. This growth is still lower than the 5.3 per cent 2012 average. However, air-travel growth dropped sharply during the year, and the results of the past few months represent an acceleration in demand growth.
"Passenger travel is growing in line with business confidence levels. Recent months have seen some positive economic signs emerge in both the United States and China, and the Eurozone crisis seems to have stabilized. Of course, risks remain; the impact of US budget cuts has yet to play out, and fuel prices are high.
But even with those headwinds–real and potential–we still see underlying support for continued and potentially even strengthened growth," said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO.
Times of Oman