Demand from air passengers in July 2007 was 5.9 per cent up on that recorded for the same month of 2006, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has revealed.

Between January and July this year, passenger demand grew by 6.2 per cent on the corresponding period of 2006.

The average load factor hit 81 per cent in July 2007 – a record level and 0.3 per cent up on the previous high recorded 12 months earlier. The first six months of the year saw average load factor levels hit 76.5 per cent.

According to Giovanni Bisignani, director general of Iata, efficiency has been "the story of the summer".

"More people are travelling than ever before with airlines registering a monthly record of over 220 billion revenue passenger kilometres in July with record load factors," he added.

"Combine that with a 10.5 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 56 per cent increase in labour productivity since 2002 and it's clear industry efficiencies have hit an all-time high."

Mr Bisignani warned, however, that there are risks. One of these is global stock market volatility, which could affect wider economies and potentially have a dampening effect on demand.

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