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International air passenger traffic up 7.8 pct yr-on-yr in March - IATA


Singapore (XFN-ASIA) - International air passenger traffic

grew 7.8 pct year-on-year last month, while cargo traffic was up 2.3 pct, the

International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

Passenger load factors for March averaged 76.4 pct with carriers in the Middle East seeing continued double-digit passenger growth driven by rapid route and capacity expansion and strong economic growth.

"All other regions also saw year-on-year increases for passenger traffic in March," IATA said.

Middle Eastern carriers also led growth in cargo traffic, while airlines in Europe, North America, and Latin America saw a decline in demand.

"The story for passenger traffic is based on strong economies driving the demand to travel for both business and leisure markets," IATA's director general and chief executive officer Giovanni Bisignani said.

"For freight, competition for other modes of transport -- particularly sea -- is holding growth below our forecast of 5.5 pct for 2007," he added.

For the first three months of the year, passenger demand was up 7.0 pct compared to last year, with average load factors of 74.9 pct, while freight demand rose 2.7 pct.

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