The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said in a report that Africa was the weakest in global air traffic improvements in 2012.
IATA said in the report of 2012 that "African airlines had a solid year of growth, up 7.5 percent, as the continent's economic expansion drove traffic demand.
It said that capacity expansion of 7.1 percent was just below traffic growth. This improved the load factor to 67.1 percent, but it was still the weakest of all regions.
IATA's full-year traffic data for 2012 shows a 5.3 percent year-on-year increase in passenger demand and a 1.5 percent fall for cargo.
It said: "The 5.3 percent increase in passenger demand was slightly down on 2011 growth of 5.9 percent but above the 5 percent twenty-year average. Load factors for the year were near record levels at 79.1 percent. Demand in international markets expanded at a faster rate (6.0percent) than domestic travel (4.0 percent).
"In both cases, emerging markets were the main drivers of growth," it said. The 1.5 percent fall in demand for air cargo compared to 2011 marked the second consecutive year of decline, following a 0.6% contraction in 2011. The freight load factor for the year was 45.2 percent."
It said that passenger demand grew strongly in 2012 despite the economic bad news that dominated much of the last twelve months. This demonstrates just how integral global air travel is for today's connected world.
It said that at the same time, near-record load factors illustrate the extreme care with which airlines manage capacity.
"Growth and high aircraft utilization combined to help airlines deliver an estimated $6.7 billion profit in 2012 despite high fuel prices. But with a net profit margin of just 1.0 percent, the industry is only just keeping its head above water," said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO.