Governments are being urged not to place roadblocks to recovery as Iata airlines recorded a 5.9% rise in March passenger traffic over the same month last year.

Part of the rise was attributable to traffic related to the Easter holiday, which occurred in March this year against April 2012.

But the seasonally adjusted trend continues to show strong growth, with demand expanding at an 8% annualised rate in the six months since October 2012, Iata reported.

Growth in demand was led by emerging markets with all regions showing gains.

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said: “Strong demand for air travel is consistent with improving business conditions.

“Performance, however, has been uneven. Mature markets are seeing relatively little growth while emerging markets continue to show a robust expansion.

“Although oil prices have softened in recent weeks, they remain high against historical averages. In view of this, airlines are responding with a very cautious approach to capacity management.”

He warned that the impact of US budget cuts has yet to be fully measured.

“Business confidence levels continue to foreshadow an economic upturn,” said Tyler. “It is important that governments avoid placing roadblocks to recovery.

“The flight delays and cancellations inflicted on air travellers to, from and within the US owing to sequestration-related budget cuts had the potential to inflict real damage to the economy if they had been permitted to continue.

“Fortunately Congress and the Obama Administration put aside partisan political disputes for the good of the economy. But aviation is far too important to be treated as a bargaining chip in political disputes in the first instance. Let’s hope that lesson is well learned.

“The next challenge is to knock back the $5.5 billion in added taxes and charges in the Administration’s budget proposal, which represent a 29% increase over the $19 billion in fees and taxes that airlines and air travellers paid last year. Under such conditions, the natural ability of aviation connectivity to catalyse economic growth and jobs is compromised.”

European carriers recorded 3.7% growth on international services year on year.

However, the trend for international travel on European airlines has been largely flat since October 2012, reflecting persisting weakness in the eurozone economy and recent downward revisions to growth expectations for 2013, Iata said.

Strong growth in the Chinese market as well as an improvement in Asia trade since the 2012 fourth quarter supported increased demand in the Asia Pacific regon which saw traffic rise by 5.4%.