GENEVA (Reuters) - International air passenger demand grew 3.0 percent in April compared to a year earlier and was 1.4 percent up from March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday.
The growth trend has accelerated in the past six months, consistent with a better business environment, compared to the mid-months of 2012, IATA said. Airlines in all regions saw a better April this year than in 2012, with Middle Eastern carriers posting the strongest expansion.
Demand growth was strongest in emerging markets, while European and North American airlines saw a more modest increase.
"While economic developments in Europe and the U.S. certainly bear watching, most indicators continue to signal further expansion in air travel," IATA's chief executive Tony Tyler said in a statement.
Despite the improvement in demand, airline profitability may have slipped in April because in every region except Africa the number of seats available grew even faster, meaning more planes flying with empty seats.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Emma Farge and Stephen Nisbet)