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The number of air passengers grew by 8.2% last year, but airlines only increased capacity by 4.4%, according to new figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Middle eastern carriers performed the strongest in 2010, with a growth in passenger demand of 17.8%, followed by African airlines, which recorded a growth of 12.9%.
The smallest growth was seen among European carriers, which recorded a growth in demand of 5.1%.
Asia Pacific carriers grew by 9%, North American carriers by 7.4%, and Latin American carriers by 8.2%.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said airlines ended the year slightly ahead of early 2008 volumes, but with a “pathetic” 2.7% profit margin.
“The world is moving again. After the biggest demand decline in the history of aviation in 2009, people started to travel and do business again in 2010,” he said.
Looking forward to 2011, Bisignani said the challenge would be “to turn the demand for mobility into sustainable profits”.