International air passenger traffic was up 6.4 percent in December 2011 compared to the same month of 2010, while international freight traffic slipped 0.8 percent, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday.

For 2011 as a whole, international passenger traffic was up 6.9 percent versus 2010 and freight traffic was down 0.6 percent. The annual growth in total passenger traffic, including domestic flights, grew 5.9 percent.

The annual decrease in freight, including domestic flights, was 0.7 percent.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general, said: “Given the weak conditions in Western economies the passenger market held up well in 2011.

“But overall 2011 was a year of contrasts. Healthy passenger growth, primarily in the first half of the year, was offset by a declining cargo market. Optimism in China contrasted with gloom in Europe.

“Ironically, the weak euro supported business travel demand. But Europe’s primarily tax and restrict approach to aviation policy left the continent’s carriers with the weakest profitability among the industry’s major regions. Cautious improving business confidence is good news. But 2012 is still going to be a tough year.”

(Reuters)

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