The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday airliners in the Middle East transported in February 13.4 percent more passengers than in the same period last year, while cargo freight picked up by 11.9 percent year on year. Globally, passenger traffic picked up by 5.4 percent in February compared with the same period last year, while freight volumes increased by 2.9 percent. The IATA report said the Gulf nations in particular were enjoying acceleration in non-oil sectors of their economies, further supporting strong demand for air travel. In relation to air cargo, Middle East carriers not only benefited from the stronger growth in developed economies but also from expanding trade with emerging economies, said IATA. "The strong demand for air travel at a time of rising business and consumer confidence is indicative of the symbiotic relationship in between aviation and economic growth," said IATA chief Tony Tyler. Airliners in the Middle East would continue to benefit from the strength of regional economies and solid growth in business- related premium travel, according to the report.