May 4, 2017 / 10:32 AM / 2 years ago

Global air passenger demand rises 6.8 percent in March: IATA

FILE PHOTO: Travelers wait in a security check point line at O'Hare Airport before the busy Thanksgiving Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) - Global demand for air travel rose 6.8 percent in March as lower fares and improving economies continued to support growth through the first quarter, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday.

The association said that it will have to wait for the April data to see the impact of restrictions on large electronic devices in the cabin on certain direct flights to the U.S. and Britain.

The restrictions, on flights from predominantly Middle East countries, were brought in by U.S. and British authorities in late March.

However, traffic growth at the Middle East carriers slowed to 4.9 percent in March, against 9.5 percent in February as the low oil price took its toll on demand.

“This is related more to developments seen last year, while any impacts from the laptop ban will be visible from April results onward,” IATA said in a statement.

Globally, capacity measured in available seat kilometers rose 6.1 percent, slower than demand. That meant load factors - a measure of how full planes are - increased 0.5 percentage points to 80.4 percent, which IATA said was a record for the month of March.

Reported by Evangelo Sipsas; Editing by Victoria Bryan

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