Air passenger traffic reached a 12-year high in the first half of 2017, according to the International Air Transport Association. The number of passengers grew 7.9% compared to the same period in 2016 as load factors hit a record 80%. IATA attributed the year’s strong start to an improving global economic backdrop and stimulus from lower airfares. The industry’s annualized growth pace remains ahead of the average growth rate of both the past five years (6.4%) and 10 years (5.5%), IATA said. North American carriers have shown a total market growth of 3.8% for the first half of 2017, as capacity has grown 3.4% and the overall load factor increased 0.3 points year over year to 83.1%. North American airlines’ international traffic was up 4.3% YOY during the first half. “The comparatively robust economic backdrop in North America is expected to continue to support outbound passenger demand in the near-term,” said David Oxley, IATA senior economist. “However, anecdotal evidence has continued to suggest that tourists are being deterred by the additional security measures now involved with traveling to the US.” Domestic travel in the US increased 3.4% during the first half of 2017, slower than its 4.6% growth rate a year ago. US domestic capacity was up 3.3%, resulting in an 84.5% domestic passenger load factor for the year through June 30.