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Regional airlines recover from the impact of Arab Spring

The number of passengers flying on regional airlines in the Middle East increased by 23.4 per cent in February compared to the same period last year as the aviation industry shrugged off the impact of the Arab Spring, according to the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) monthly report

Regional airlines were hit hard by poor performances in February 2011 owing to the protests that swept across the Arab world and toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.

?Stripping out the distortions, we estimate that the region has now fully recovered from the negative impact of the Arab Spring,? IATA stated.

IATA last month revised its profit forecast for regional carriers from US$300mn to US$500mn, bucking a worldwide trend despite rising fuel costs affected the industry.

The capacity growth for carriers in the region has shot up by 16 per cent, the report revealed, while financial performance was already better than what was expected in 2011.

The scenario, however, changes significantly when compared to the January 2012 figures, with passenger demand only growing by 0.4 per cent and cargo declining by 1.2 per cent.

On a global basis, IATA reported that passenger traffic increased by 8.6 per cent while overall cargo demand rose 5.2 per cent.

The industry body warned that the outlook for the aviation industry still remained fragile amid weak economic conditions.