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updated 3/30/2010 1:51:33 PM ET 2010-03-30T17:51:33

Demand for seats on international flights rose 9.5 percent in February, led by Asian carriers that benefited from travel for Lunar New Year.

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But the gain was in comparison with February 2009, which was the low point for last year's drop-off in travel demand, the International Air Transport Association said.

Passenger demand would have to rise another 1.4 percent to get back to its pre-recession level, the group said.

Cargo demand grew 26.5 percent in February, IATA said. Cargo traffic fell even more than passenger demand during the recession and would have to rise another 3 percent to return to its pre-recession level.

Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO, said the industry should return to pre-recession traffic within three months.

"This is still not a full recovery. The task ahead is to adjust to two years of lost growth," he said in a prepared statement.

Traffic on Asian carriers rose 13.5 percent. Growth was weakest for European carriers, where traffic rose 4.3 percent, and North American carriers, up 4.4 percent.

Traffic on Middle Eastern airlines rose 25.8 percent. Latin American carriers saw traffic grow 8.5 percent, and African airlines rose 9.8 percent.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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