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Global demand for air travel in the first two months of 2016 got off to its best start in eight years but the Brussels attacks in March are a "grim reminder" that the transportation sector remains a target for terrorists, according to Iata.
Total revenue passenger kilometers rose 8.6% in February, compared to the same month last year.
As monthly capacity increased by 9.6%, the load factor declined 0.7 percentage points to 77.8%.
Commenting on the figures, Iata director general and chief executive, Tony Tyler, said: "In the first two months of 2016, demand for passenger connectivity is off to its strongest start in eight years.
“However, February was the first month since the middle of 2015 in which capacity growth exceeded demand, which caused the global load factor to decline.
“It is unclear whether this signals the start of a generalised downward trend in load factor, but it bears watching.”
He added: "On March 22 we had a grim reminder that transportation, including aviation, remains a target for terrorism.
“The attacks in Brussels were an attack on humanity - a terrible tragedy - that was met with resilience. The subway is back in operation. And the airport is working hard to return to normal operations that will reconnect Europe’s capital with the world.
“Aviation is a force for good. And we are once again proving that terrorists will never succeed in destroying the fundamental urge of people to travel, explore and learn about the world," said Tyler.
International passenger demand in February rose 9.1% year-on-year, which was an increase over the 7.3% rise recorded in January.
Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 9.9%, causing load factor to slip 0.6% percentage points to 76.6%, according to Iata.
Domestic travel demand rose 7.9% in February against growth of 6.9% in January. All countries except Brazil showed growth, with the strongest increases seen in India, the US and China.
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