Dubai: Global air freight posted a 2.7 percent contraction for the last month as compared to September 2010, but air travel demand was strong in India and China which showed good domestic growth.

Traffic results for the month of September show diverging trends for cargo and passenger traffic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced.

Passenger traffic was 5.6 percent higher than the same month last year and stronger than the 4.6 percent year-on-year growth recorded in August.

Air freight on the other hand posted a 2.7 percent contraction for September compared to September 2010. This is a further deterioration from the 2.4 percent decline recorded in August, IATA said in a statement released here.

Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 4.3 percent increase in demand, well below the 6.3 percent increase in capacity.

Despite strong domestic growth in India and China, growth rates for international markets slowed.

India led the way with 18.4 percent growth, although slightly below the 20.1 percent increase in capacity.

This was followed by China at 9.7 percent and Brazil where a 7.5 percent increase in demand was well below the 14.6 percent increase in capacity.

"September's strength in passenger demand was a pleasant surprise. Freight demand contracted for a fifth consecutive month and this trend is in line with falling business and consumer confidence.

"We are still expecting a general weakening in passenger traffic as we head towards the year-end," said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO.

According to the association, international air travel volumes rebounded to levels reached in July, following a dip in August.

"The sharp decline in business confidence in most economies, and the weakness in US and European consumer confidence, suggest reluctance for both business and leisure travel," it said, adding that continuing strong air travel markets may reflect the robust conditions in emerging markets and travel booked earlier in the year when there was more economic optimism.

Passenger load factors, according to IATA data, stood at 79.5 percent in September, slightly below the 80.1 percent recorded for the same month last year.

Highest load factors were recorded in North America (82.6 percent) and Europe (82.4 percent).

The load factor for Asia-Pacific airlines slipped to 76.0 percent as the region absorbs the largest number of new aircraft deliveries.

(Agencies)