Asia-Pacific tops North America as world’s largest aviation market

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For the first time, the Asia-Pacific region has knocked North America from its position as the world’s largest aviation market, the International Air Transport Association said Monday.

Last year, Asia-Pacific travelers reached 647 million, versus 638 million within North America, the lobby group said. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to significantly help the global industry narrow its losses in 2010, thanks to demand and government stimulus money, IATA said.

Asia-Pacific carriers are forecast to shrink their losses to $700 million this year from $3.4 billion. In total, global losses are predicted to narrow to $5.6 billion versus a loss of $11 billion in 2009.