Global air passenger traffic rose by 8.0 percent in January compared to the same month in 2013, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday. The year "is off to a strong start, with travel demand accelerating over the healthy results achieved in 2013," IATA chief Tony Tyler said in a statement. The soaring numbers came amid "stronger growth in advanced economies and emerging market regions," he said. January outperformed the previous month, when air passenger traffic rose 6.8 percent year-on-year and was well above the full year growth last year of 5.2 percent. International air traffic swelled 7.8 percent in January while domestic routes grew 8.2 percent, IATA said. Passenger numbers were up across all regions, soaring 18.1 percent in the Middle East. Airlines in that region are benefitting from a number of strong economies and solid growth in business-related premium travel, especially in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, IATA said. Air passenger numbers meanwhile jumped 8.0 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 6.4 percent in Europe. North American carriers meanwhile only posted 3.5-percent growth, while passenger numbers were up 4.4 percent in Latin America and 2.7 percent in Africa. When it comes to domestic travel, China reported the greatest growth, with passenger numbers up a fifth in January, with an already solid expansion boosted further by the timing of the Lunar New Year, IATA said.