World 'moving again' in 2010, figures show

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The Independent Travel

The world started flying again in 2010, according to data released February 2 by airline industry group IATA.

Releasing the final figures for last year, the International Air Transport Association said that passenger flights rose 8.2 percent through the year, and planes were slightly (2.7 percent) fuller than in 2009.

The rise comes despite an exceptionally difficult year for airlines in 2010, which saw freak weather, several strikes and a massive ash cloud cause disruption to flights on a scale not seen in recent history.

Nevertheless, all areas of the world saw strong increases in demand, led by the Middle East, where huge new airliners delivered to the likes of Emirates enabled them to fly 17.8 percent more passengers than in 2009.

Africa saw a sharp rise in demand of 12.9 percent, although IATA warned that planes in the region are far less full than the industry's average, at just under 70 percent occupancy.

The growth in passenger demand in Asia-Pacific was also strong, up by 9 percent on the back of rapid economic growth of China and India, where aviation is expected to boom in the coming years.

Air travel in Latin America saw a rise of 8.2 percent, North America of 7.4 percent and Europe was up 5.1 percent, partially caused by December's awful weather.

"The world is moving again," said IATA in a statement, "after the biggest demand decline in the history of aviation in 2009, people started to travel and do business again in 2010."

All eyes in the industry are now on the price of fuel which has been rising recently, prompting some carriers to increase fuel surcharges for their flights.