Global Air Passenger Traffic Up 8.8 Percent in First Six Months of 2005

GENEVA (AP) -- Global air passenger traffic grew by 8.8 percent in the first six months of this year, the International Air Transport Association said Thursday, adding that it hoped recent terrorist attacks in tourist destinations would not deter future travelers.

Growth was led by airlines from the Middle East, Latin America and North America, which all recorded an increase in passenger travel above 10 percent, the Geneva-based federation of air carriers said.

World passenger loads - a measure of how full planes are - were 74 percent in the first half of the year, a full percentage point up from last year, IATA said. In June, loads on North American passenger planes were as high as 83.9 percent.

IATA said the industry ''remains vigilant at a heightened level of security'' in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Britain, Turkey and Egypt.

''Passengers should be reassured that the air transport network is more secure than ever,'' said Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani. Governments should do even more to better coordinate security measures, he said.

Cargo traffic, however, grew by only 3.2 percent between January and June, as high fuel prices and a slowdown in the global economy took their toll, IATA said.

Cargo traffic grew by 13.2 percent in the same six-month period last year.