International air transport to grow 5.1 pct a year between 2007-2011: IATA

Paris (Thomson Financial) - International air traffic will

grow 5.1 pct a year between 2007 and 2011 with domestic flights up 5.3 pct,

the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

The organisation said that by 2011 the air transport industry will handle 2.75 bln passengers, 620 mln more than last year, with freight rising to 36 mln tonnes, some 7.5 mln tonnes more than in 2006.

"The numbers clearly show that the world wants to fly. And it also needs to fly. Air transport is critical to the fabric of the global economy, playing a critical role in wealth generation and poverty reduction," Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and chief executive said in a statement.

The greatest growth will come in the Middle East, where the market is expected to grow by 6.8 pct annually, followed by the Asia Pacific region at 5.9 pct and Africa 5.6 pct, it said.

The growth will be lowest in the US at 4.2 pct.

It said international passenger demand is expected to rise from 760 mln passengers in 2006 to 980 mln in 2011, slightly lower than the 7.4 pct recorded during 2002-2006, largely due to slightly slower global economic growth.

Domestic passenger demand is expected to grow from 1.37 bln passengers in 2006 to 1.77 bln in 2011, fuelled by expansion in the Indian and Chinese home markets.

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