GENEVA, May 2 (Reuters) - International air cargo traffic rose just 0.1 per cent in March over the figure for the same month last year, but passenger traffic was up by 9.6 per cent, the airline industry body IATA said on Wednesday.
IATA, the International Air Transport Association whose statistics cover some 240 carriers, said the cargo year-on-year figure was distorted because a late Lunar New Year had caused a surge in traffic in March last year.
As compared to February this year, cargo demand was significantly stronger, up by 2.2 per cent, the body said. Air cargo traffic is regarded as key indicator of the state of world trade.
IATA also suggested that it was too early to take the passenger surge in March as a sign of strengthening recovery in an industry badly hit by the global financial crisis.
Passenger demand was significantly down in the early part of last year because of political turmoil in Arab countries and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it said.
If the effect of these on traffic was factored in, IATA said, the year-on-year increase in March this year would have been around only 2 per cent. (Reporting by Robert Evans; editing by Keiron Henderson)