(Adds quote, background)
GENEVA May 30 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