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Global airline passenger traffic growth slipped back in January over the same month last year, new figures from Iata show.

Growth was up by 4.6% compared to January 2014, representing a slower start to the year compared to 2014 full-year growth of 5.9%.

Capacity rose in January by 5.2% and the load factor slipped 0.5 percentage points to 77.7%.

While domestic markets drove growth in the latter part of 2014, international traffic was stronger in January, Iata said.

Director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “January traffic did not maintain the rate of growth attained in 2014; nevertheless, we are seeing healthy albeit slightly slower growth in the demand for air services.

“While January was a relatively positive start for the year, we cannot look ahead without seeing some significant risk factors in the macro-economic and political environment.”

The monthly results were affected by the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday falling in February this year, the airline trade body pointed out.

The Chinese government estimated that the number of people making overseas trips during the holiday period topped fve million—a 10% increase on 2014.

The China Tourism Academy suggests that this activity generated some $22 billion for the Chinese tourism industry. It was widely reported that the 450,000 Chinese travellers who visited Japan over the period spent nearly $1 billion.

Tyler said: “Air travel drives business. The economic impact of travel during the Lunar New Year period is a tremendous example of how powerful a force travel can be.

“This is our message to governments: a successful air transport industry strengthens economies with broad economic and social benefits.

“The industry is committed to sustainable growth. But it is critical that governments do their part in ensuring cost-efficient infrastructure to accommodate demand and not constraining growth with excessive taxation or onerous regulation.”