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Global air passenger traffic demand rises 7.7% in May: Iata

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Qatar Airways Ltd agreed to acquire a stake in Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, a deal that would make it the third-largest shareholder in the premium carrier as Asia's biggest international airline faces mounting competition from low-cost and mainland Chinese rivals.

[LONDON] Global demand for air travel rose 7.7 per cent in May as almost all regions, excluding the Middle East and North America, posted record-high May load factors, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Thursday.

Middle East carriers had a 3.7 per cent rise in demand in May compared to a year ago, close to an eight-year low, with Iata saying that reflected the ban on large portable electronics devices in the cabin from 10 airports in the region to the United States, plus uncertainty over President Trump's proposed travel bans.

Qatar Airways on Thursday joined Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad in saying the ban had been lifted.

Overall, Iata said global capacity measured in available seat kilometres rose 6.1 per cent, slower than demand. That meant load factors - a measure of how full planes are - increased 1.2 percentage points to 80.1 per cent, which IATA said was a record for the month.

"The rising price of fuel and other input costs is likely to see airlines' ability to stimulate markets with lower fares taper over the coming months," Iata Director General Alexandre de Juniac said.

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