The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that global passenger demand in January rose 7.8% year-on-year, with airlines in all regions recording growth and the strongest gains in the Middle East. “2014 is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013, in line with stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions,” said IATA’s director general and CEO, Tony Tyler. Middle East carriers’ demand soared 18.1% in January, the strongest growth for any region. Capacity climbed 15.0% versus the same month in 2013 and load factor climbed 2.2 percentage points to 81.1%, also the highest for any region. The airlines are benefitting from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel, supported by the performance of internationally trading industries and key economies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, said IATA.