Air travel rose by 8.2 percent year-on-year in January, according to figures released February 28 by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The world is now traveling 6 percent more than it was at the high point before the global recession, said IATA, adding that January's results also represented a significant improvement from December 2010, when bad weather hit flights in Europe and the US.

Africa showed a 14.3 percent rise in traffic compared to the year before, although its planes were emptier than anywhere else in the world, with an average load factor of 68.7 percent.

As usual, Middle East carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar also performed strongly, seeing an 11.7 percent increase, although IATA warned that political instability could hit demand in some areas - Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined comprise around a fifth of the region's international passenger traffic.

Latin American carriers reported an 11 percent growth in demand and Asia Pacific carriers were up 5.8 percent in January, more than double the 2.8 percent increase in December.

North American carriers recorded an 8.7 percent increase in demand and Europe's carriers saw a 7.9 percent rise.