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ME passenger traffic up 8%

International traffic fell by 5.8 per cent in November. (JOSEPH J CAPELLAN)

By Shweta Jain

The Middle East recorded the highest passenger growth of eight per cent in November 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier. This was followed by Africa at five per cent, as the world passenger traffic recorded a sharp drop of eight per cent in the month, according to the Airports International Council (ACI), the worldwide association of airports.

"Only the Middle East and Africa regions recorded solid growth in international traffic for the month, compared to notable drops in Europe (-6 per cent), Asia Pacific (-11 per cent) and North America (-4 per cent)," ACI said.

It added: "International traffic, previously the driver of robust growth during the first half of 2008, decreased in November by 5.8 per cent, and worldwide domestic traffic dropped by 8.5 per cent for the month."

The countries worst hit by the fallout of battered economies are the US, South Korea, Japan and the UK, ACI said, adding that the results from Thailand and India were further impacted by political protests and closure of the airport in Bangkok, and the terror attacks in Mumbai in late November.

Spain, meanwhile, saw domestic traffic declining further partly because of competition with new high-speed train connections, and Italian airports suffered from the uncertain future of Alitalia.

South African airports registered double digit declines in domestic traffic and fewer international passengers.