The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that international passenger demand increased 6 percent in February compared to the same month last year. However, February’s growth was down significantly from the revised 8.4 percent expansion recorded in January. The political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is estimated to have cut international traffic by about one percent – a figure IATA said made it almost entirely responsible for the slip in passenger demand growth last month. “Another series of shocks is denting the industry’s recovery from the recession. As the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia spreads across the Middle East and North Africa, demand growth across the region is taking a step back,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA. “The tragic earthquake and its aftermath in Japan will most certainly see a further dampening of demand from March. The industry fundamentals are good. But extraordinary circumstances have made the first quarter of 2011 very difficult.” Globally air travel volumes in February were still 16 percent higher than the low point reached in early 2009 and some five percent above the pre-recession peak of early 2008. IATA warned however, that rising fuel prices, along with further unrest, are still a major threat to the industry. Europe’s carriers recorded 7.4 percent growth compared to February 2010 due to a 9.8 percent increase in capacity. This was down from an expected 7.9 percent increase.